Certified liver specialist: Privatdozent Dr. Daniel Benten is head physician at the Asklepios Westklinikum in Rissen.
Photo: Michael Rauhe
Why elevated blood levels should be taken seriously. Test for hepatitis B. C will be part of preventive care in the future.
Hamburg. How dangerous are actually elevated liver values? "In any case, it is negligent to simply dismiss them as alcohol-related according to the motto: just drink a glass of wine less and then it will be okay," says Private lecturer Dr. Daniel Benten. Instead, the true cause must be clarified in order to determine the stage of a burnout Liver disease The chief physician for gastroenterology, hepatology and endoscopy at the University of Heidelberg says that it is important to recognize the disease at an early stage and to prevent it from progressing to life-threatening cirrhosis Asklepios West Hospital In a new podcast episode that will be available on abendblatt and elsewhere.de can be heard free of charge.
The organ suffers silently, symptoms show up late
The tricky thing about liver disease is that the symptoms (including fatigue, reduced performance) are often "completely unspecific" and also usually appear very late. "The liver suffers silently," says the renowned liver and intestinal specialist, who also worked at the UKE during his career. "My boss at the time published a book on the subject with the apt title 'The Silence of the Liver'."
The causes of worrying liver values could be quite diverse, according to the habilitated chief physician. "This ranges from chronic viral hepatitides, i.e. hepatitis B and C, to fatty liver hepatitis to rather rare autoimmune, and metabolic diseases."
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The liver suffers silently: new prevention for hepatitis B and C
Explanation: Hepatitis A and E are acute liver infections triggered by viruses. "They usually, that is, if you're not immunocompromised, heal on their own," says the married father of two young daughters. The situation is different for the chronic variants of hepatitis B and C, which – if left untreated – can progress to cirrhosis of the liver.
Quite new is that the test for these two forms of hepatitis from the 1. October of this year is part of the preventive program "Check-up 35" with the family doctor. "This is great, because in this way you can uncover a high number of unreported cases and treat the diseases very early," says the physician. Because the hepatitis B virus can be well suppressed by modern medications. Hepatitis C almost 100 percent curable thanks to "a spectacular achievement in molecular biology". "A course of tablets, taking one pill a day for eight to twelve weeks, gets rid of the virus. Sounds simple enough, but of course it is based on years of intensive research."
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Fatty liver almost a widespread disease
Fatty liver is almost a widespread disease, affecting one in four Germans, says the chief physician, who is a Hannover 96 and HSV fan (season ticket)!) already on the next attendance "and a stadium sausage" looks forward. Everything is fine in moderation, but if the lifestyle is too unhealthy for a long time, the liver may eventually complain.
"Patients with elevated liver values, in whom we see fatty degeneration on ultrasound when the liver appears lighter than the kidney, should promptly change their habits with a structured program, reduce their weight and exercise more," says the specialist, who himself likes to cycle from Winterhude to the clinic in Rissen on his racing bike.
Special ultrasound method for diagnosing liver cirrhosis
At the Westklinikum, a special ultrasound method, elastography, can now be used to determine whether liver cirrhosis (shrinking liver) is already present. The liver tie is destroyed and scarred, and the main goal is to avoid complications.
"Advanced cirrhosis of the liver unfortunately never goes away without a liver transplant," says private lecturer Dr. Daniel Benten. "We can then only try to prevent so-called ascites, an accumulation of water in the abdominal cavity, and variceal hemorrhage, in which varicose veins in the stomach and esophagus bleed profusely."
His first paramedic assignment, when he was doing his community service, involved a man with a variceal hemorrhage due to cirrhosis of the liver. "I don't rule out the possibility that this experience subconsciously led me to choose gastroenterology as my specialty.