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Liver disease treatment

Liver disease occurs when healthy liver tissue is damaged and replaced with scar tissue

Man holding his abdomen needs liver disease treatment
Liver disease is an umbrella term for various conditions that affect the liver. There are several types of liver disease, then most common causes of which are alcohol misuse, obesity, and untreated hepatitis infection. Less commonly, liver disease may occur due to autoimmune or genetic disorders.

Long-term liver damage causes liver tissue to be replaced by scar tissue, a condition known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis isn't reversible and can lead to liver failure which can be life-threatening.

How liver disease is treated depends on the type of liver disease you have, your symptoms, and how severely your liver has been damaged. Treatment for liver disease includes lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery.

If you have been diagnosed with liver disease or have symptoms that point to liver problems, call or book online today to arrange a consultation to discuss private liver disease treatment with a specialist of your choice at Circle Health Group.

What is the liver and what does it do?

The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. It is responsible for numerous functions including separating waste and nutrients as they pass through your digestive system and the production of substances that aid digestion such as bile. It also plays an important role in helping your blood clot.

The most common types of liver disease include:

Alcoholic liver disease (ALD)

ALD is damage to the liver caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Alcohol damages liver cells and drinking too much alcohol over a prolonged period can cause permanent liver damage.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

This is caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. This type of liver disease is more common if you are overweight or obese.


Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Liver inflammation can occur due to infection with a virus (hepatitis A, B, C, D or E) or drinking too much alcohol over many years (alcoholic hepatitis).

Primary biliary cholangitis (primary biliary cirrhosis)

This is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells, in this case, the bile ducts. Damage to the bile ducts causes a build-up of bile in the liver leading to liver damage and scarring (cirrhosis).


Haemochromatosis is an inherited condition that causes iron to build up in the body. If untreated, it can lead to complications including liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The liver is a robust organ with the ability to repair and regenerate itself. As such, liver disease may not show symptoms until the disease is in the advanced stages. Many people are not aware that they have liver disease until their liver damage is already severe.

Symptoms of liver disease may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of libido (sex drive)
  • Abdominal pain (especially on the right side)
  • Bleeding or bruising easily
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Pale (clay-coloured) poo
  • Swelling (oedema) in your arms and legs
  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)

At your first consultation, you will be seen by a consultant specialising in liver disease. This will usually be a gastroenterologist or a hepatologist. Your consultant will ask you about your symptoms, general health, and medical history. They will also perform a physical examination.

Your consultant may check how well your liver is working with tests and scans including:

Your first consultation is where we get to know you, discuss your expectations for treatment and encourage you to ask any questions you may have. It is important to us that you are as well-informed and comfortable as possible before, during, and after your treatment, so please ask your consultant any questions you may have.

After making a diagnosis based on your test results, your consultant will discuss possible treatment options with you and decide on the best option based on your symptoms and diagnosis.

Liver disease can be treated in several ways. The right treatment for you depends on the type of liver disease you have, your symptoms, and the extent of your liver damage. In many cases, a combination of lifestyle changes and medication will be recommended.

Lifestyle changes

Changes to your lifestyle can slow down the progression of your liver disease and reduce the risk of complications.

These may include:

  • Stop drinking alcohol
  • Lose weight if needed
  • Take regular exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce the risk of getting infections by practising good hygiene and getting vaccinated against diseases like the flu
  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet to ensure you get the right nutrients - our team of specialist dieticians can help you with this
  • Cut down on salt to relieve swelling (oedema)


You may be prescribed medication to treat the cause of your liver disease or to help relieve symptoms and reduce or prevent complications.

Medications may include:

  • Antivirals - to treat chronic (long-term) hepatitis infection
  • Blood pressure medication - to lower high blood pressure in the portal vein (portal hypertension)
  • Diuretics - to relieve swelling (oedema)
  • Topical creams - to help with itching


If your liver becomes severely damaged by cirrhosis and no longer works properly, you may need a liver transplant. A liver transplant is surgery to replace your diseased liver with one from a donor.

There is a long waiting list for donor livers, and you may have to wait a long time for a liver to become available. You will not be eligible for a liver transplant if your liver disease is alcohol-related and you continue to drink alcohol.

Some types of liver disease are not preventable, but you can reduce the risk of developing liver disease caused by alcohol, diet and in some cases hepatitis infection.

Some things you can do to help prevent liver disease include:

  • Avoid alcohol, or drink only within safe limits (no more than fourteen units a week spread over at least three days)
  • Keep your weight within healthy limits
  • Limit your use of medications that can damage your liver such as paracetamol
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B if you are at high risk
  • Take regular exercise
  • Practise safe sex and avoid sharing items that can spread viral hepatitis such as needles, razors, and toothbrushes

We answer some of your most commonly asked questions about liver disease.

What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease causes fat to build up in the liver causing scarring and cirrhosis. It is more common in people who are overweight or obese.

Is there treatment for liver disease?

There are various treatments available for liver disease including lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery in the form of a liver transplant. Non-surgical treatment aims at slowing or stopping the development of liver disease, and in the case of viral hepatitis, treating the cause. There is no cure for liver cirrhosis, and once your liver is severely damaged and does not function properly, a liver transplant may be necessary.

What is the medical treatment for fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver disease is treated by lifestyle changes to reduce the progression of the disease and medications to treat symptoms such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. There is currently no medication to treat or cure fatty liver disease.

What is the treatment for alcoholic liver disease?

As with fatty liver disease, there is no medication specifically to treat alcoholic liver disease. Treatment aims to stop the disease from getting worse and involves stopping all alcohol and other lifestyle changes as well as medications to manage symptoms.

What is the treatment for chronic liver disease?

Treatment for chronic liver disease depends on the cause. If the cause is lifestyle-related, lifestyle changes such as stopping drinking, losing weight, and following a healthy diet are necessary to prevent or reduce further liver damage. If your liver disease is caused by chronic hepatitis, you will be prescribed antiviral medication to treat the hepatitis infection.

At Circle Health Group, we have the experience and expertise to ensure the best possible care and outcome for our patients. As a patient with Circle Health Group, you can expect the highest standards of care including:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations that are convenient for you
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • A range of delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about liver disease treatment, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in April 2023. Next review due April 2026.

  1. Liver disease, NHS
  2. Treatment for cirrhosis, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  3. Chronic Liver Disease/ Cirrhosis, John Hopkins
  4. Treatment: cirrhosis, NHS

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