There are many different types of liver disease. It may be inherited genetically or caused by environmental factors such as viral infections or alcohol use. Liver disease causes damage which eventually can result in permanent scarring and possibly liver failure.

The most common symptoms of liver disease include yellowing of skin and eyes (disease called jaundice); abdominal pain; swelling in abdomen, legs, and ankles; itchy skin; dark urine colour; pale, bloody, or tar-coloured stool, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Liver disease can be caused by infections, immune system abnormalities, genetics, or cancer. Infections are typically due to parasites or viruses which are spread through blood, semen, contaminated food/water, or close contact with an infected individual. These infections cause inflammation and reduce liver function. Most of the time, liver infections are caused by the hepatitis viruses: Hepatitis A, B, and C. Immune system abnormalities result in your own body attacking itself which affects your liver and causes liver diseases. Abnormal genes can result in substance build-up in the liver, resulting in liver damage and disease. Cancers such as liver cancer and bile duct cancer would be considered liver disease. Heavy alcohol use, the sharing of needles, exposure to other people’s bodily fluids, diabetes, and obesity can all increase your risk of liver disease.

Different liver diseases will require different treatments. Treatments will either involve lifestyle modifications, medications, or surgery. Lifestyle modifications may include the discontinuation of alcohol use or losing weight. Surgery is often reserved for severe liver diseases that may lead to liver failure and require a liver transplant.

Quick Links

For further information, visit the individual pages of the specific disease:
Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH)
Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)

REMINDER: This information is intended to provide general information and should not be used to base a diagnosis or treatment. Please consult the doctors about your specific condition and the approach for treatment.