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Liver disease

There are many different types of liver disease. You can help prevent some of them by maintaining a healthy weight and staying within the recommended alcohol limits, if you drink.

Types of liver disease

Some of the most common types of liver disease include:

ConditionPossible causes
Alcohol-related liver diseaseregularly drinking too much alcohol
Non-alcoholic fatty liver diseasebeing very overweight (obese) – this may cause fat to build up in the liver
Hepatitiscatching a viral infection, regularly drinking too much alcohol
Haemochromatosisa gene that runs in families and may be passed from parents to children
Primary biliary cirrhosismay be caused by a problem with the immune system

Symptoms of liver disease

Most types of liver disease don't cause any symptoms in the early stages.

Once you start to get symptoms of liver disease, your liver is already damaged and scarred. This is known as cirrhosis.

See a GP if you have symptoms of cirrhosis, such as:

Other symptoms may include itchy skin, or feeling or being sick.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with liver disease, the British Liver Trust or Children's Liver Disease Foundation can also offer advice and support.

How to prevent liver disease

The three main causes of liver disease are:

You can reduce your risk of many types of liver disease with some simple lifestyle changes:

  • try to maintain a healthy weight for your height – try the BMI healthy weight calculator or read about losing weight
  • avoid drinking too much alcohol – read some tips on cutting down

There are vaccines available for two types of hepatitis. These are recommended if you're at risk. Read about:

You don't have to be an alcoholic to risk damaging your health by drinking. Regularly drinking just over the recommended levels can be harmful.

Read about the risks of drinking too much.