Liver Disease: Symptoms, Types, Causes, and Treatments and Financial Support | Milaap
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The moment one hears of someone having liver disease, one thinks it is the result of alcohol abuse. Liver problems are not always a result of alcohol abuse. In fact, even babies can be affected by it. Understanding the disease can go a long way in leading a healthier lifestyle.

What is a liver disease?

The liver is our body's largest organ - carrying out over 500 functions in our body! The liver filters blood from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. It produces bile that digests fat. It even breaks down chemicals and toxins in your body. It is also the most resilient - capable of functioning and healing even when it is 70% damaged. Liver disease happens when over 75% of the liver is damaged and it just can't heal or function any more.

What causes liver disease?

Alcohol abuse is one of the most common causes of liver diseases. Alcohol causes cell inflammation. 

Too much fat accumulation in the liver or a fatty liver is also susceptible to damage.

Certain medications also injure liver cells. Prolonged use of prescription drugs can also lead to liver failure in some cases.

If damaged cells in the liver are replaced by cells that have no function, then scarring happens, causing cirrhosis. This eventually leads to liver failure.

In some cases, infections cause liver inflammation, especially if a patient has been affected by Hepatitis. In others, liver disease can be hereditary.

Cancer, Wilson’s disease, excessive retention/excretion of calcium oxalate, excessive iron in the body, cholesterol accumulation, improper blood flow, obstructed bile flow, etc. can cause liver disease.

What are the symptoms of a liver disease?

Liver failure can happen over time or suddenly. It is the sudden or acute liver failure that is deadly and needs immediate action.

Little Bhargav's liver disease has caused his stomach to swell up and he itches constantly. Bile accumulation has damaged a lot of his liver. The 2-year-old's cries fill his house. He cries in confusion, not knowing why he itches and feels so sick. A liver transplant is his only option.

General symptoms of liver disease include jaundice (yellowish tinge in the eyes and skin), abdominal pain and swelling, itchy skin, loss of appetite, dark urine color, pale or bloody or tar-colored stool, chronic fatigue, nausea or vomiting, tendency to bruise easily, and fluid accumulation around ankles and sometimes stomach.

When the symptoms get severe, families have an urgent need for funds to rush their loved ones into surgery. When they lack time to prepare, most families need financial assistance. Crowdfunding is the most practical way to raise funds for yourself or your loved ones when diagnosed with a liver disease.

What are different disease that cause liver damage?

There are over 100 types of liver diseases. These include:
  • Budd–Chiari syndrome – caused by obstruction of blood vessels leading to the liver.
  • Biliary Atresia – where one or more bile ducts are abnormally narrow, blocked, or absent. Most common cause of liver failure in children.
  • Cirrhosis – formation of fibrous tissue (scars) in the place of liver cells that have died due to damage
  • Gilbert's syndrome – a genetic disorder of bilirubin metabolism found in a small percent of the population. Can cause mild jaundice
  • Fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis) – a reversible condition where large amounts of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells.
  • Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver due to infection.
  • End-stage liver disease – Hepatitis C virus slowly damages the liver over many years, often progressing from inflammation to permanent, irreversible scarring (cirrhosis).
  • Wilson’s disease – a genetic disorder in which copper builds up in the body damaging different organs in the body. Liver is the worst affected.
  • Acute liver failure – severe liver damage (loss of function of 80–90% of liver cells).

When 3-year-old Rithu’s stomach began to swell. Her parents thought she was putting on weight. Soon enough, they realized it was not baby fat but something else. Several trips to the hospital helped her parents understand that she has a genetic metabolic disorder. Rithu needed to be on a diet. What’s worse is that her 2-year-old brother, Akhilesh has it too. Now, both their livers are damaged beyond repair and they need liver transplants. 

What are the various treatments for liver disease?

Treatment for liver diseases is specific to the type. Since chronic liver diseases are reversible (thanks to the regenerative capability of the liver), doctors often recommend medication. When a patient’s liver has gone beyond repair, a transplant is recommended. It can be a transplant from a living donor, or, in some cases, cadaver donor.

Acute liver disease strike suddenly when a family does not have any time to react. The only option is a liver transplant, an expensive procedure that is difficult for most people to fund. Even for those who have been managing on medication for a long time, it is financially and emotionally draining to arrange for a surgery all of a sudden. Crowdfunding is probably the quickest growing financing option for such patients who need a liver transplant.

Through crowdfunding, the family of the patient can relieve some of the financial strain of the surgery by asking for the generous and compassionate support of the community.

How to use crowdfunding for liver disease?

Crowdfunding platforms like Milaap have become a popular option for families who are in immediate need of financial support especially when a loved one needs a liver transplant.

1-year-old Chanudi had a surgery just a few months after birth to fix her liver problem. Unfortunately, it failed, and she was left with a hernia that was even more painful. She was not eating or sleeping. The family flew from Sri Lanka to Bangalore, India, to get her treated. An employee at the government prison, Chanudi’s father needed help to fund the expensive procedure. He had no friends or family until a crowdfunding campaign on Milaap helped raise Rs 10,81,417 in a little over 24 hours.

“Hope is so precious. I’m glad and grateful for this support.” – says Palasurya (Chanudi’s father).

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