Liver Disease Increases Risk for Diabetes
There is an alarming epidemic of how liver disease and diabetes are linked together, which causes a domino effect of associated conditions. During my experience with hepatitis C, I was tested often for diabetes, liver scarring, cysts, and tumors that could lead to liver cancer. Being aware of the risk of associated conditions, early detection, and treatment can help save your life.
Types of liver disease and associated conditions
Hepatitis C and fatty liver disease overlap in various ways, increasing the high risk for associated conditions such as diabetes. Specialists are seeing an alarming increase in diabetes with hepatitis C.1
Hepatitis C can also increase the risk of fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, portal hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, cryoglobulinemia (blood disorder), and joint and muscle pain. Hep C can also lead to NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), which in turn can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, NASH (Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.1
Tests to diagnose liver damage and diabetes
Here are some common diagnostic tests:
- Blood tests: Regular blood work with your liver specialist and/or endocrinologist can help detect pre-diabetes and diabetes, liver function abnormalities, and other disorders.
- Physical exams with your liver specialist (hepatologist, gastroenterologist, or infectious disease doctor), or an endocrinologist (for diabetes, thyroid, or other endocrine disorders)
- Ultrasound: An abdominal sonogram can be done once or twice a year to detect early signs of cysts, tumors, or fat accumulation in the liver.
- Endoscopy can determine if there is bleeding, swelling, or abnormalities in the digestive system.
- MRI can also help determine if there is liver damage.
- Fibroscan: This test helps determine if there is liver damage and its stage.
What lowers the risk of fatty liver disease and diabetes?
Some options your doctor might recommend include losing weight if you are overweight, changing diet, avoiding alcohol, exercise, and prescription medication (if needed).
What doctors do I need to see?
If you have hepatitis C or another liver disease condition, you may need to be under the care of a liver specialist like a hepatologist, gastroenterologist, or infectious disease doctor. They specialize in testing, treatment, and patient care for liver disease.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes, you may need to be under the care of an endocrinologist, who specializes in endocrine disorders, like diabetes, thyroid disorder, etc. Your hepatologist and endocrinologist can work together to guide you with specialized treatment, and care to help you.
Taking proactive steps with diet, exercise, and medication can prevent complications from diabetes and hepatitis C; It may even help save your life. Don’t delay. Your life matters!
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