Digestive Disorders


The liver plays an important role in digestion and overall health.
As a major organ in the body, the liver is responsible for filtering harmful substances from the blood and for breaking down fat. The liver produces bile, which is important in breaking down fat so that the body can absorb vitamins and other nutritional substances. The liver also manufactures important amino acids needed for protein synthesis. The liver is responsible for making hormones and glucose, and for storing vitamins within the body.

Serious related liver conditions may be diagnosed in newborns and infants, which may result in jaundice (yellow skin color) and inadequate weight gain and growth. Biliary atresia requires initial surgery, and may be managed with nutrition support to optimize growth and medicines for symptom control. A liver transplant may be needed at some point in the future years.

The liver may also be affected by a type of very serious viral infection called hepatitis. There are five forms (subtypes) of hepatitis (A, B, C, D, and E), each having unique risk factors, length of time a person is affected, and potential for long-term problems. The hepatitis subtypes your doctor is most concerned about are:

Hepatitis B: This is a serious inflammation of the liver passed by infected blood, body fluids, needles, and other things. It is spread from infected individuals and objects through unprotected sex, birth, sharing razors and toothbrushes, tattoo needles, drug needles, and human bites. It is common with people from central and southeast Asia. It is diagnosed by a blood test and prevented through vaccination.

Hepatitis C: This form of hepatitis causes inflammation that results in damaged liver tissue. It is caused by direct exposure to infected blood through mucous membrane or a cut in the skin. There is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

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