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What do you need to know about liver disease?

Many types of illnesses and diseases affect people pretty much the same across the board. A temporary illness, like the flu, usually makes a person nauseous, weak and generally unable to do much of anything for a few days. A chronic disease, like cancer, can make a person's body seem to waste away as they fight the disease and go through seemingly unending treatments. Liver disease, however, affects people in many different ways and isn't always the easiest of diseases to diagnose.

Many of our Los Angeles readers probably know that the consumption of alcohol is one of the leading causes of liver disease. But every person is different, and some may develop liver disease from alcohol consumption much more quickly than another person will. For some people, liver disease from alcohol consumption can begin after five to 10 years of regular, daily alcohol use. For others, it may take 20 to 30 years.

Hepatitis is another common health condition that leads to liver complications. There are a variety of different hepatitis viruses, but most target the liver, leading to inflammation and other sorts of damage to liver cells.

One of the most mystifying aspects of liver disease is that in many cases there simply aren't any symptoms. Some people have liver disease and probably don't even know it. However, advanced stage liver disease can be completely debilitating, and often fatal. Some people do exhibit visible signs of what might be liver disease though, such as yellowing skin or eyes. Some people with liver disease will also experience an increase in fatigue, or even excessive itching. When liver disease begins to limit a person's ability to work, there is a possibility that the person could qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

Source: www.uihealthcare.org, "Liver Disease: Frequently Asked Questions," accessed on Feb. 1, 2015

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