A hepatologist is a specialist who diagnoses, treats and prevents diseases of the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts.
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The very branch of medicine called "hepatology" is one of the subsidiary branches of gastroenterology. However, she is studying the liver, gallbladder and its pathways in more detail.
In addition, there is a separate area of hepatology that works exclusively with children, that is, pediatric hepatology. This branch appeared quite recently and is currently actively developing, studying the structure and ontogenesis, as well as the pathology of the liver of young patients.
- What diseases does a hepatologist treat?
- Reception of a hepatologist: how does it go?
- Treatment prescribed by a hepatologist
- Symptoms to contact a hepatologist
- Appointment to a hepatologist
What diseases does a hepatologist treat?
Almost any liver pathology requires close attention from a doctor, since therapy is most often long and serious. Therefore, not only the doctor, but also the patient himself will need to make efforts so that the treatment carried out gives a positive result. In addition to taking prescribed medications, patients have to reconsider their diet and lifestyle in general. In addition to diagnostics, therapy and prevention for the treatment of liver diseases, the hepatologist is also developing similar measures for the gallbladder and bile ducts.
So, a doctor of this specialty almost daily encounters the following diagnoses:
- Cirrhosis of the liver;
- Hepatitis in the acute and chronic phase;
- Alcoholic liver damage;
- Hepatitis provoked by a herpes infection;
- Hepatitis provoked by gram-negative microorganisms;
- Legionnaires' disease;
- Yellow fever;
- Hepatitis: cytomegalic, toxic, autoimmune, nonspecific reactive, hepatitis C, enteroviral, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis;
- Gilbert's syndrome;
- Asthenovegetative syndrome;
- Leptospirosis and other pathologies.
If a patient has an oncological lesion of the liver, then he is redirected to an oncologist. Often, in parallel with diseases of the liver and gallbladder, concomitant pathologies of the organs responsible for the digestion of food are detected, in this case the patient needs a consultation with a gastroenterologist.
Reception of a hepatologist: how does it go?
First of all, the specialist will find out from the patient what symptoms are causing him anxiety, and then he will examine the patient. The doctor reveals a hereditary predisposition to certain liver diseases, the patient's lifestyle and his priorities in food are not left without attention. It is the last two factors that most often play a decisive role in the occurrence of liver diseases, if we are not talking about viral damage to the organ.
Tests prescribed by a hepatologist
When the history taking and examination is completed, the doctor will decide on the need for tests to confirm the diagnosis.
The standard set of such studies is three basic criteria:
- UAC (blood for general analysis);
- LHC (blood for the study of its biochemical parameters);
- OAM (urine for general analysis).
If necessary, the doctor will expand this basic set of tests. So, the patient may be offered to undergo an ultrasound scan, to pass additional tests to study them in laboratory conditions, it is possible that radiological examination methods will be used. This is necessary in order to obtain the fullest possible information about the patient.
Additional studies prescribed by a hepatologist
It is possible that the doctor will recommend the patient to undergo one or more of the tests listed below:
- Donating blood to study the level of reticulocytes and erythrocytes;
- Delivery of feces for the detection of stercoblin in it;
- Undergoing an ultrasound, CT or MRI of the liver;
- Identification of concomitant infections: herpes simplex virus, Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus;
- Passage of electroencephalography;
- Performing a liver biopsy, for which the patient is injected with a local anesthetic, and after the procedure, temporary hospitalization is required (for several hours);
- If there is a suspicion that the patient is infected with hepatitis E, then it is necessary to examine his blood and urine to determine the hemoglobin content in these fluids.
Treatment prescribed by a hepatologist
The principles on which the therapy is based are as follows:
- Prescribing antiviral therapy. The purpose of such treatment is to eliminate the pathogen (in this case, the virus) from the body. This requires an integrated approach.
- Identification of concomitant chronic diseases of other organ systems in the patient. If they are found, it is necessary to carry out additional measures, the task of which is to achieve a stable remission.
- Prescribing dietary food to the patient. Most often, people with liver problems are recommended diet table number five. However, it can be changed, depending on the individual characteristics of the course of the disease in a particular patient.
Symptoms to contact a hepatologist
Since the most common liver diseases are hepatitis C and cirrhosis, it is advisable to dwell in more detail on the symptoms of these diseases.
Liver cirrhosis: symptoms
Depending on the stage of the disease, the symptoms of cirrhosis will vary. The onset of the disease, as a rule, is hidden and the patient may not suspect that he has manifested a pathological process. However, attention should be paid to bleeding gums, pain in the abdomen and an increase. People become less attentive, the ability to concentrate on a certain type of activity deteriorates. Weakness and increased fatigue appear.
Over time, if a person does not consult a hepatologist, the disease progresses, the symptoms become more pronounced. The skin becomes yellowish, there are problems with libido. The feces become lighter, and the urine, on the contrary, becomes darker. Its color can be compared to the color of kvass.
It is important for the patient not to miss the first signs of pathology and promptly seek help from a hepatologist. The sooner therapy is started, the higher the chances that it will be effective. In addition, if treatment is started at an early stage, then the processes that destroy the liver will be reversible and the organ is able to recover in the future. As a result, cirrhosis can be stopped.
Read more: The first signs and symptoms of liver cirrhosis, causes, how to treat?
Hepatitis C: symptoms
The disease is quite insidious, since a person is unaware of its presence in his body. This is due to the fact that the disease gives almost no symptoms. Even passing into an acute stage, and then into a chronic one, the disease may not manifest itself in any way. Throughout this time, the liver will gradually collapse, the process can take several decades (up to 25). At the same time, the person himself does not even know that he is infected with a dangerous virus.
Symptoms sometimes appear, but few people pay attention to them: this is increased weakness, abdominal pain, weight loss and loss of appetite. Rash and itching may appear on the skin. In addition, the virus can infect not only the liver, but also other organs, in particular: the circulatory system, endocrine glands, muscles and joints, the nervous system, kidneys, etc.
Appointment to a hepatologist
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