AN urgent warning has been issued over a “disease crisis” brewing in the UK.
Deaths from liver disease in the country have more than doubled in the last 20 years.
The condition kills more than 10,000 people every year, with many people not being diagnosed early enough.
The British Liver Trust wants big steps to be taken in how liver disease is managed and detected, warning we are in the midst of a crisis.
This could help people to get diagnosed quicker, and have a better chance of fighting the “silent killer”.
Pamela Healy OBE, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “Late diagnosis is costing the lives of thousands of men and women each year as three-quarters of people with cirrhosis are diagnosed in hospital when it is too late for them to have life-saving treatment.
“We are launching our campaign in parliament to call for urgent action to stop this silent killer in its tracks, and are calling on the Government to work with health services to ‘make early diagnosis of liver disease routine’ by ensuring that a systematic pathway is commissioned and implemented in these areas and that this is evaluated on a regular basis.
“Our research has shown that there are areas of good practice and that the changes we’re calling for are entirely possible.
“We now need to take what’s working well in those areas with good liver patient care and apply them in others so that every person with liver disease gets the best possible care, no matter where in the UK they live.”
Liver disease is often diagnosed late because the symptoms are either vague or non-existent in the early stages.
This is also not helped by little being known about the disease by both the public and healthcare professionals, the charity claims.
Samantha Hartin who lost her mum to Non-Alcohol related Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) spoke at a campaign launch event.
At ‘Make Early Diagnosis of Liver Disease Routine’, she said: “My mum was diagnosed with Non-alcohol related Fatty Liver Disease on 19th April 2018 and sadly passed away just four days later, just six days after her 57th birthday.
“At her inquest, the coroner cited missed opportunities for diagnosis and treatment.”
Types of liver disease include alcohol-related liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis, haemochromatosis, primary biliary cirrhosis.
Tragically most don’t cause symptoms in the early stages, and once they do start, damage has already been done.
You should see a GP if you are feeling very tired and weak all the time.
If you have lost your appetite, and are losing weight, this is also a potential sign.
Yellowing skin and whites of the eyes, and a loss of sex drive is a red flag.
Other symptoms include feeling or being sick, or having itchy skin.
The three main causes of liver disease are obesity, an undiagnosed hepatitis infection and alcohol misuse.
Hepatitis, an inflamed liver, is rare in healthy children – but in the last few weeks nearly 200 kids all over the world have become unwell.
One child has died, and 17 have had to have liver transplants to save their lives.
We pay for your stories!
Do you have a story for The Sun news desk?