Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large, flat gland located in the upper abdomen, between the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. The pancreas produces enzymes that flow through the pancreatic duct and combine with bile to aid in the digestion of food. The pancreas also produces insulin and glucagon to help regulate blood sugar levels. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the enzymes it produces become active and attack it, damaging the pancreas. Pancreatitis can be either an acute or chronic condition causing mild to severe symptoms. Both forms of pancreatitis may lead to complications. Severe cases of pancreatitis may cause permanent damage to the tissue. Pancreatitis is more likely to occur in men than women.
Autoimmune hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that occurs when the body's immune system attacks the liver. The symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis may include nausea, mild fatigue, joint pain and abdominal pain. Anyone can develop autoimmune hepatitis at any age, but the disease is more common in women. In order to diagnose autoimmune hepatitis, a blood test will be performed. This can be used to distinguish autoimmune hepatitis from viral hepatitis, which has similar symptoms. A liver biopsy, which involves removing a small amount of liver tissue for analysis, helps determine the severity of damage to the liver. Autoimmune hepatitis is treated with medication that helps prevent the body’s immune system from attacking the liver. If autoimmune hepatitis has already progressed to the point at which cirrhosis has developed, a liver transplant may be required.
Cirrhosis, also known as hepatic fibrosis, is a condition of the liver that causes irreversible scarring and deterioration. The scarring from cirrhosis affects the blood flow in the liver, reducing its ability to function. Cirrhosis one of the leading causes of death by disease in the United States. Cirrhosis often develops as a complication of chronic liver disease from such things as alcohol abuse, hepatitis B or C, medications, viruses, autoimmune disease, disorders of the bile duct, and family history.
Hepatitis B is inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. Left untreated, hepatitis B can become a serious, chronic condition that may permanently damage the liver. Many people with hepatitis B experience symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms, which last for several weeks, may appear up to five months after infection. Severe cases of hepatitis B may require a liver transplant to replace a damaged liver.
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease caused by an infection with the Hepatitis C virus. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C and no treatment to cure the condition either, so it is important to take precautions to prevent an infection with this disease. Chronic Hepatitis C is the leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver transplants in the United States. About 60 percent of all new cases of Hepatitis C are the result of injected drug use.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, is a common liver condition that occurs when fat accumulates in the liver of a person who consumes little or no alcohol. While it is normal for the liver to contain some fat, patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually experience difficulties breaking down the fat in the liver. This can result in an excess of fat being stored within the liver tissue, which may lead to inflammation and damage in the liver. NAFLD is an umbrella term that refers to several forms of fatty liver disease, which vary in their severity. The three forms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are NAFLD, or simple steatosis, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, and NASH-related cirrhosis.