Hepatology & liver disorders care
Your liver plays an important role in digestion along with the rest of your gastrointestinal system. The liver works to filter blood coming from the digestive tract, and to digest, absorb and process food with the help of the pancreas and intestines. When the liver is not functioning correctly, food might not be processed correctly, resulting in dangerous weight loss or other conditions.
The providers at Novant Health Gastroenterology Brunswick diagnose and treat common and complex conditions affecting the liver, pancreas and other organs affecting the digestive system.
Jaundice, marked by a yellowing of the skin and eyes, is caused by very high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is often the first and only sign of liver disease.
Fatty liver disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is marked by excess fat deposits in the liver. If that fat leads to inflammation or other damage, the condition is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Many people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease have no symptoms. If it progresses to NASH, patients may experience fatigue, weakness, weight loss and yellowing of the skin. Some also see blood vessels that appear in a spider web pattern or persistent itching. Blood tests and liver biopsies are used to diagnose fatty liver disease. Losing weight and other lifestyle changes can help manage fatty liver disease, and medication can sometime help as well.
Metabolic liver disorders
When too much iron is absorbed from food and not eliminated from the body, the condition is called hemochromatosis. Much of this iron is stored in the liver and pancreas, which can lead to damage. Wilson disease is marked by too much copper being stored and not eliminated. That extra copper is stored in the liver and can lead to liver damage and even death. Early diagnosis and treatment of these conditions can be life-saving.
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver which can be caused by a virus or by a drug or prescription medication. Blood tests, imaging studies or a liver biopsy can be used to diagnose hepatitis. Drug therapy including antiviral medications are common hepatitis treatments, but your treatment plan will depend on the cause and severity of your illness.