Risk factors for conditions involving damage to the liver include drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, taking more than the recommended dosage of acetaminophen, and being overweight. Conditions resulting from liver damage include cirrhosis, or advanced scarring of the liver, and fatty liver disease, which is often, though not always, seen in alcoholics. Metabolic syndromes, such as diabetes, can cause fatty liver disease in non-alcoholics, while obesity can also contribute.
Infection from certain viruses can cause inflammation of the liver, known as hepatitis. The four types of viruses that can cause hepatitis are categorized by the letters A, B, C, and E. One of the telltale symptoms of hepatitis is yellow coloration of the skin and eyes, called jaundice. If your doctor sees that you are jaundiced, he or she will likely refer you to a hepatologist, who specializes in treating liver conditions, where you will undergo testing to confirm the disease.
The liver produces bile, which is then stored in the gallbladder. Diseases of the gallbladder include gallstones, which result from buildup of chemicals in the gallbladder and can be related to liver disease, and cancer of the gallbladder. Either of these conditions can cause blockages of the biliary ducts, leading to cholecystitis, or inflammation of the gallbladder. In most cases, the gallbladder can be safely removed. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to gallbladder disease.
Treatment for diseases of the hepatic system often involve either medications or surgery. A diseased gallbladder may need to be removed entirely, and a severely damaged liver sometimes requires a transplant. Lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss and reducing alcohol consumption, can help to treat the underlying causes of some conditions. Depending on the type, hepatitis infections may be treated with antiviral medications or allowed to run their course with symptom management.