Liver is an important and large organ in the body that helps in digestion of food, filtering of toxic substances from the blood and thickening the blood to form clots. But in cases where liver gets diseased, the normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue and the liver doesn’t work properly. Liver disease develops slowly and may take several months to many years to show symptoms.
There are so many reasons for liver disease like alcoholism, Hepatitis C virus, non-alcoholic fatty liver etc. Its diagnosis requires various blood tests, a liver biopsy, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound and/or endoscopy.
Signs & symptoms of end-stage liver disease
- Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
- Fatigue or continuous weakness or tiredness
- Swelling of the legs and abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Itchy skin
Palliative Care for liver disease
Palliative care is given to manage the symptoms of the patient with serious illnesses like liver disease. It does not aim to cure the disease but will give relief to the patient from symptoms, pain and stress that the disease or its treatment is causing. It is provided by a team of specialists, including palliative care doctors, nurses and social workers who work with therapeutic doctor of the patient to provide an extra layer of support.
Although palliative care can be given at any age and at any stage of illness but ideally, it should be started as soon as the patient is diagnosed with Liver disease and be continued throughout the entire course of illness and treatment. It gives best results when given along with curative treatment.
Goals of Palliative Care for liver disease
- Act as first line of defense against any symptoms of pain, discomfort, depression or anxiety
- Improve quality of life of patient and his family
- Give right medicines to relieve common symptoms such as shortness of breath, itchy skin, nausea and hiccups
- Support patient and his family when disease gets worse and liver stops working
- Control symptoms and emotionally support the patient before, during and after liver transplant surgery
- Guide patient and his family to make both large and small decisions
Advantages of Palliative Care for liver disease
- Provides relief from the symptoms, pain and stress related to liver disease
- Explains treatment choices to the patient and help them match those options to their personal goals
- Helps patient to better understand the condition and what to expect
- Supports family and patient to cope with the burden of liver disease and the painful side effects of medical treatment
- Relieves stress of family caregiver
- Enhances communication between patient, family and doctors, and help to clarify all doubts and concerns about disease and treatment
- Better quality of life and longer survival