This is a DNA virus whose infection happens mainly through blood (substance abuse, intravenous, tattoo, piercing), sexual contact and through “vertical transmission” (mother to child) during birth. Transmission through blood transfusion and non-sterile equipment remains relatively rare in industrialized countries.
The Hepatitis C
HCV is an RNA virus that is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. Historically, most patients with this virus were infected through blood transfusions. Now that the blood supplies are screened for HCV, the most common cause for new cases is intravenous drug use. While sexual transmission of the virus can occur, it is very rare as the virus is not transmitted in semen or saliva. Given that the virus can exist in the body for a long time, many people infected with HCV are unaware of how they contracted it.
NASH (non-alcohol related steatosis)
NASH is the association of steatosis and liver inflammation with fibrosis development.
There are two liver related autoimmune diseases:
- PBC (Primary Biliary Cirrhosis) is an inflammatory disease of the intrahepatic bile ducts that can turn into cirrhosis in the most severe cases. PBC is mostly diagnosed among women over 40.
- Autoimmune hepatitis is an inflammatory disease of the liver characterized by the elevation of specific blood markers and the presence of autoantibodies. It can happen at all ages but mainly among women.
- Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) is characterized by inflammatory and fibrotic involvement of the bile ducts, inside and / or outside the liver. When the cause of the biliary lesion is identified, it is called secondary sclerosing cholangitis. Otherwise, it is called primitive. This disease affects mostly men (2/3 of cases), rather young (<40 years at the time of diagnosis). It can reach children. (1)
Liver “storage” diseases
There are two « storage » diseases:
- Genetic hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder caused by a defect in the regulation of intestinal iron absorption. Iron accumulates in tissues, including in the liver, causing /generating fibrosis then cirrhosis. The disease is much more common in men than in women and occurs around 40-60 years. The treatment of this disease intends to reduce iron deposits in the body tissues.
- Wilson disease, still scarce, is a genetic disorder caused by the accumulation of copper in the liver. Cornea and nervous central system can also be affected.
What can be the symptoms of liver diseases
Several symptoms may appear:
- Nausea, dizziness may cause vomiting.
- Pains in the upper part of the abdomen.
- A coloring of the skin in yellow, commonly called jaundice. This is the consequence of an excess of bilirubin (bile) in the blood and in the body.
- Fatigue and weakness: consider consulting a doctor if these relapses of fatigue persist.
- Fever: it can be coupled with pain in the abdomen. It is therefore important to take its temperature, because it can be an inflammation or an infection.
- Light colored stools: These are usually associated with a liver problem (which may affect the colon).
- Itching, due to the accumulation of bile under the skin.
- Bleeding and blues. Bleeding (in the nostrils) may be the cause of a protein deficiency caused by a dysfunction in the liver organ. (1)
- Having these symptoms is not necessarily linked to a liver problem. It is up to your doctor to diagnose a liver infection. (2)
Liver Icons ®Estherqueen999
(1) Lee YM, Kaplan MM. Primary sclerosing cholangitis. N Engl J Med 1995; 332:924-933.