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:
|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|
|Hepatitis||Catching a viral infection, regularly drinking too much alcohol|
|Haemochromatosis||A gene that runs in families and may be passed from parents to children|
|Primary biliary cirrhosis||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.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
You have symptoms of liver damage (cirrhosis), such as:
- feeling very tired and weak all the time
- loss of appetite – which may lead to weight loss
- loss of sex drive (libido)
- yellow skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
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 3 main causes of liver disease are:
- an undiagnosed hepatitis infection
- alcohol misuse
You can reduce your risk of many types of liver disease with some simple lifestyle changes such as:
- trying to maintain a healthy weight
- not drinking too much alcohol
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.
- Use the BMI healthy weight calculator to find out your body mass index (BMI)
- Start the NHS weight loss plan
- Read about cutting down on alcohol
- Find out who should have the hepatitis A vaccine and who should have the hepatitis B vaccine
Page last reviewed: 20 October 2020
Next review due: 20 October 2023