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

There are several types of liver disease, which can have different causes.

Common types of liver disease and the possible causes
Condition Possible causes

Alcohol-related liver disease

Regularly drinking too much alcohol

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Being very overweight (obese) – this may cause fat to build up in the liver


Catching a viral infection or regularly drinking too much alcohol


A gene that runs in families and may be passed from parents to children

Primary biliary cholangitis

May be caused by a problem with the immune system

Symptoms of liver disease

Most types of liver disease do not 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.

Symptoms of cirrhosis include:

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

you think you might have liver disease or cirrhosis


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.

Treatment for liver disease

Treatment for liver disease depends on the type you have and how severe it is.

Healthy lifestyle changes can help with some types of liver disease. For example, alcohol-related liver disease may improve if you stop drinking alcohol.

Some types of liver disease (such as certain types of hepatitis) may need to be treated with medicine.

If you have severe liver damage and scarring (cirrhosis), you may need a liver transplant.

How to prevent liver disease

The 3 main causes of liver disease are:

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

Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These are recommended if you're at risk.


You do not have to drink an excessive amount of alcohol to risk damaging your health. Regularly drinking just over the recommended levels can be harmful.

More information

Page last reviewed: 9 August 2023
Next review due: 9 August 2026