October is Liver Disease Awareness Month: Get the Facts You Need for Your Health


As the air temperature begins to cool and we set our sights on pumpkin spice, it is just as important to focus our attention on our health, which includes one of the most important and integral components of the body — the liver. This organ is in charge of aiding in the digestive process, changing the food we eat into energy, and ridding our bodies of toxic particles so that we can enjoy health and wellness.

The liver is an essential organ that carries out various functions to help us experience optimal health. October is Liver Disease Awareness Month. This month serves as an important reminder to consider our liver health and ask questions such as: "How can I determine if I have liver disease?" or "What can I do to elevate my liver health?" The GI doctors at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC are pleased to answer these questions and more, and can assist you in receiving personalized care for your liver health. Keep reading as our Hattiesburg, MS team offers additional information about medical issues that affect the liver.

What are the various forms of liver disease?

"Liver disease" refers to medical conditions that lead to damage or inflammation in the organ. Liver disease is not a singular "condition" per se but rather a broad term referencing the collection of conditions that could interfere with liver health. The factors behind the different types of liver concerns may vary as well. Some liver conditions develop from excessive alcohol intake or infectious agents such as viruses, while others might be caused by an overabundance of bilirubin in the liver. Liver disease involves a number of conditions, including:

  • Bile duct diseases – Bile duct diseases cause blockage in the bile ducts and inhibit the flow of bile. These conditions can include:
    • Gallstones
    • Cancer
    • Inflammation (which leads to scarring and can cause liver failure)
    • Infections
    • Birth defects (such as biliary atresia)
  • Hepatitis – Hepatitis is a condition involving liver inflammation.
  • Jaundice – An overabundance of bilirubin in the liver causes the white areas of the eyes along with the skin to take on a yellowish color.
  • Fatty liver disease – A condition where a buildup of fat accumulates inside a patient's liver. This may cause cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Liver cirrhosis – Healthy areas of liver tissue are taken over by scar tissue, resulting in diminished liver function.

Given that there are broad differences in these diseases, it is advised to talk with an experienced gastroenterologist to identify the underlying cause of your liver issues. The appropriate treatment plan can then be developed to help meet your healthcare needs.

What are the common signs and symptoms of liver disease?

Even though varying liver conditions can have different causes, many liver disease signs and symptoms will be the same. It is vital to visit a GI specialist at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC, so a diagnosis and treatment plan can be identified. Signs and symptoms of liver disease involve:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal swelling and pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Itchy skin
  • Yellowing of the skin and white portions of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark urine
  • Exhaustion

In the event you notice one or more of the symptoms mentioned here, please request an appointment with one of our GI doctors in Hattiesburg, MS.

How can I improve my liver function?

When under the care of a gastrointestinal doctor for liver disease, you will likely be given personalized instructions on the steps you can take to improve your unique needs. However, there are some general recommendations that every individual should consider to improve their liver health and function. These include:

  • Consume foods high in fiber.
  • Drink adequate amounts of water.
  • Adhere to a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.

Learn more about treatment for liver disease in Hattiesburg, MS

Given that about 1 out of every 10 Americans is impacted by some type of liver disease, you or someone you love might find yourself seeking treatment solutions for liver problems. During October, Liver Disease Awareness Month, we urge you to contact Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC for a consultation to learn how our providers can address liver conditions or the steps you can take to guard against them. For those already noticing symptoms of liver disease, our Hattiesburg, MS gastrointestinal specialists can review any concerns, determine a diagnosis, and develop a treatment approach that best suits your unique health needs.