The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in our body and yet most of us don't know much about it. It builds chemicals our body needs to stay healthy, breaks down harmful toxins and removes waste products from our blood. But if it gets inflamed, it will let you know. Trust us, it will let you know. You shouldn't ignore those signs because liver disease is the #5 cause of death in South Dakotans between the age of 35 and 55.
Liver Specialist Dr. Elgouhari says, "The immune system recognizes the liver cells as something foreign, not belonging to us, and started attacking the liver cells and caused damage which left scaring.
Patient Janice Bell says, "I was really really tired. I could sleep 20 hours a day and still go to bed that night. I hurt a lot and it wasn't a regular type of hurt, like you hurt yourself. It's hard to explain. I just ached all over and nothing took the pain away."
Autoimmune Hepatitis is very common in women. In fact, Dr. Elgouhari says 70% of those who get it are women. Janice's friend insisted she take off her glasses and look at how yellow they were. She was jaundice.
Janice says, "My enzymes were off the chart. Over 2000. My enzymes were high enough that it could have killed me. My liver was close to failure."
They caught Janice in time so she didn't need a liver transplant. Dr. Elgouhari put her on Prednisone and an anti-rejection medication.
Janice says, "When I was first diagnosed I felt like I was 90 years old. And I felt like some days I just didn't care. I feel better now."
A now rosy cheeked Janice Bell (versus a golden yellow cheeked Janice) is glad she didn't ignore her liver. She knows now, by doing so it would have killed her.
Janice won't be on medication her whole life, although she will go in regularly to have her enzymes tested... if she has a flare up... she will go back on medication until it clears.
Avera Center for Liver Disease Support Group
Join us for a physician overview of liver disease and treatment, including an open question and answer session, and free refreshments. The Liver Support Group meets from 6:30-7:30 pm at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center, 3400 S Southeastern Ave, in Sioux Falls, SD. To register or for more information, please call 1-877-200-0583 or 605-322-8535.
Liver Support Group Dates:
August 21, 2008 – 6:30-7:30 pm
November 20, 2008 – 6:30-7:30 pm