Chronic Liver Diseases in the Elderly Q&A
Elderly people frequently suffer from chronic liver disease, which can have serious negative effects on their health and well-being. People become increasingly vulnerable to liver function from a variety of sources as they age and their natural ability to function weakens. Furthermore, a lot of people could have pre-existing diseases or be on medication that could worsen them. Dr. Mohamed Nassar MD Clinic provides services focused on delivering comprehensive and compassionate care for elderly patients with chronic liver disease. For more information, contact us or schedule an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 255 Terracina Blvd, Suite 105 Redlands, CA 92373.
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Aging comes with many increased risks of developing diseases with less favorable outcomes, so it is important to be aware of different diseases or conditions for which you or your loved ones may be at risk and what symptoms you should be aware of. Over our lifetimes, our livers help make sure that our bodies run properly, regularly receiving damage from different substances that go into our bodies and working overtime in many cases. This makes liver developing liver disease more likely to occur in the elderly population.
Some common liver diseases that become more prevalent or are at an increased risk of development in the elderly population include alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, primary biliary cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and a liver transplantation. Aging can make us more at risk of developing these diseases as well as contribute to worsened outcomes. These diseases continue to become more and more prevalent and of concern in the aging populations and continue to be a threat to the health of the community. However, liver biopsies are considered to be fairly safe and are an effective means of diagnosing the different common chronic liver diseases.
The symptoms that are indicative of liver disease or liver failure in the older population are similar across a wide variety of differing liver diseases. Some of the most common symptoms include:
● Jaundice, yellowing of the eyeballs and skin
● scites, swelling in the belly region
● Malaise, overall unwell feeling
● Musty or sweet odor to the breath
● Upper right abdomen pain
● General fatigue
● Tremors or trembling
Liver disease can start to take effect fairly quickly, especially in the elderly, so it is important that as soon as the symptoms have been noticed that the patient seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially with symptoms such as the yellowing of the skin or eyes and significant changes in the personality, mood, or awareness of the patient.
The most common cause of liver problems in the elderly is ongoing substance use or an untreated disease that has been slowly degrading the liver over the years and causing scarring, which leads to cirrhosis. Substance use can include the overuse of alcohol or certain drugs such as Tylenol, as well as just the regular lifetime overuse of seemingly normal medications such as antifungal drugs, antidepressants, antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, and man-made hormones. Even extracts such as green tea and kava can lead to scarring and damage to the liver over years of continued use. Conditions such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C when left untreated can cause damage to the liver as well, causing patients to develop liver disease or go into liver failure. Lastly, there are also a number of health disorders that can lead to liver disease and liver failure in the elderly, including metabolic or vascular disorders such as autoimmune hepatitis and Wilson disease.
Liver failure can take place very quickly even in those who seemed to be perfectly healthy before symptoms developed, sometimes in as little as 48 hours, so it is important to make sure to be aware of all early indicators that someone is going into liver failure to get them medical attention as quickly as possible. Some of the earliest indicators someone will display when going into liver failure include a painful sensation taking place in the upper right abdomen, along with vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue. Early signs also include a noticeable change in the mood, personality, and behavior of the patient, as well as if they suddenly seem to be confused or disoriented. By the time the patient has begun to display jaundice, their condition is already fairly advanced and they will likely require a liver transplant. These early symptoms often go unnoticed, so if there is a risk of liver failure in the patient, anyone that is with them regularly should be aware of the early indicators so that they can seek emergency medical attention as quickly as possible.
Age is a significant risk factor for the start and severity of a number of chronic liver illnesses and disorders, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis C, and a greater propensity to develop fibrosis and cirrhosis. If you are looking for treatment and diagnosis for your liver disease, visit us at Dr. Mohamed Nassar, MD. For more information, contact us or schedule an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 255 Terracina Blvd, Suite 105 Redlands, CA 92373. We serve patients from Redlands CA, Loma Linda CA, Highland CA, San Bernardino CA, and Grand Terrace CA.