Dr. James Maher is the Katy, Texas, liver specialist you are seeking. The liver is essential for maintaining your health and performs a lot of different jobs. In fact, the liver performs more than 500 various tasks for the body. Out of these hundreds of functions, the three most important are bile production, blood cleaning, and energy storage.
Bile Production: Bile is a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. This substance is essential for breaking down foods. It specifically targets fats to turn them into fatty acids. The composition of bile is primarily cholesterol, bile acids or salts, and bilirubin (a product of red blood cells).
Blood Cleaning: The liver is a filter for blood. It removes compounds of internal and external origins from the body. Estrogen, a hormone, is just one example of an internal compound it removes. The liver also removes toxins such as alcohol and drugs from the body, which originate from outside of the body.
Energy Storage: Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. The liver stores carbohydrates in order to break them down into glucose. When a quick burst of energy is needed, the liver injects the glucose into the bloodstream to maintain levels.
With so many jobs to do, it is crucial to maintain the health of your liver. The liver is part of the digestive system or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Other parts of the body included in this system include the small intestine, colon, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, and esophagus.
Dr. James Maher is a gastroenterologist who diagnoses and treats GI tract conditions. With more than 30 years of experience in the gastroenterology field, Dr. Maher is able to help you and your liver. There are many conditions associated with the liver he can diagnose and treat.
Since the liver is such a major organ, it needs an experienced professional to care for it. There are several liver conditions Dr. Maher can identify, but one of the most serious is liver disease.
It is possible for liver disease to have no symptoms, but when there are, they include:
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- pain and swelling in the abdomen
- swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet
- itchy skin
- dark-colored urine
- loss of appetite
- nausea or vomiting
- ability to bruise easily
- gray-colored stool
It is best to schedule an appointment with your primary physician when experiencing any of the above symptoms. Extreme abdominal pain requires immediate medical attention.
The Causes of Liver Disease
The cause of liver disease is based on a variety of factors. You may or may not be at a higher risk based on certain lifestyle behaviors. For example, sharing needles while using illicit drugs increases your chance of liver disease because you are at risk of hepatitis C, a viral infection that targets the liver.
With that said, the causes of liver disease include:
- chronic alcoholism
- autoimmune diseases
An infection such as the aforementioned hepatitis C can cause liver disease. Hepatitis A and B are also likely to cause a liver infection. Consult your doctor about receiving vaccines for hepatitis A and B. These viruses create inflammation within the liver, subsequently reducing its function. Hepatitis C does not have a vaccine, so preventative measures are the most effective.
As with many different diseases, liver disease can be hereditary. If your parents passed on genetic code that increased your risk, then it could be a potential cause. Typically, genetic liver disease is caused by the buildup of certain substances within the liver.
Common genetic liver diseases include:
- Wilson’s disease
- Alpha 1-antiprotease (antitrypsin) deficiency
- Cystic fibrosis
The liver is the only organ in the body that can regenerate. As it filters out toxins such as alcohol from the body, it sustains damage. When the liver repairs itself, it produces scar tissue. Over time, scar tissue builds up and starts to hinder the liver’s productivity. This condition is also known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the late stage of liver scarring. Other diseases can cause the same problem, such as hepatitis C.
There are usually no signs of cirrhosis until the damage is severe. It is best to catch cirrhosis early because the damage is irreversible. If the condition is diagnosed and treated early, then further damage can be prevented.
There is more than one type of liver cancer. The most common is hepatocellular carcinoma. This cancer begins in the hepatocyte (the primary liver cell type). Other types of cancer include hepatoblastoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. More often than not, cancer spreads to the liver rather than starting from it. Cancer that has started from the lungs, breasts, or colon is likely to spread to the liver.
When the liver stores too much fat, it develops nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. This disease occurs in those who drink little to no alcohol. There is little understanding as to why the liver accumulates fat in but it is known to affect about one-quarter of the United States. It is linked to obesity, but there are other potential causes. Insulin resistance and high blood sugar can have been known to increase the chance of NAFLD.
When the immune system attacks healthy tissues in the body, it is known as an autoimmune disease. There are several different types of autoimmune diseases across the entire body. The liver has a few itself:
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Primary biliary cholangitis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
Katy, Texas, Liver Specialist
Liver disease is a serious condition affecting 4.5 million Americans. The cause of liver disease varies greatly from case to case. Having an experienced gastroenterologist by your side is paramount to treating the disease. Dr. James Maher has more than three decades of diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal conditions.
You can reach his Katy, Texas, clinic by calling (281) 945-5190. Dr. Maher’s clinic accepts all major insurance plans, so you are financially comfortable choosing his expertise. Visit your primary doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of liver disease. When they recommend you see a gastroenterologist, then book an appointment with the Katy, Texas, liver specialist.
Fun Facts about Katy
- You can take a walking or driving tour of over a dozen historical homes and buildings downtown.
- Katy first held its continuing annual Rice Festival in 1981.
- Katy was originally named Cane Island, after the creek that runs through it.
- Read more about Katy here.