• December 10, 2019

Living with Chronic Liver Disease? Be Aware of Hepatic Encephalopathy - Odessa American: Health & Wellness

e-Edition Subscribe

Living with Chronic Liver Disease? Be Aware of Hepatic Encephalopathy

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2019 12:00 am

(StatePoint) Approximately 30 million people in the U.S. have some form of liver disease, which occurs in people for many different reasons. Some common types and causes of liver disease include hepatitis, caused by viruses A, B, and C, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is caused by too much fat in the liver cells, and alcohol-related liver disease, caused by consuming too much alcohol. Having liver disease over a long period of time can result in cirrhosis, an advanced chronic liver disease, which then puts a patient at risk for hepatic encephalopathy (HE) – a serious complication of advanced liver disease.

“Up to 80 percent of patients with cirrhosis can develop HE. This condition can have very debilitating effects on patients and takes a toll on caregivers, especially as the condition progresses,” says Dr. Howard Franklin, vice president of Medical Affairs and Strategy at Salix Pharmaceuticals. “However, many patients with liver disease, especially younger patients, are not even aware they are at risk for developing HE, so early recognition of signs and symptoms is critical.”

A Closer Look at HE

In patients with advanced chronic liver disease, the liver is damaged so it cannot filter toxins out of the blood the way a healthy liver would. These toxins can then build up and travel through the body until they reach the brain. The buildup of these toxins in the brain can then lead to the symptoms of HE.

Onset of HE can start slowly, and at first, people with the condition may not even be aware they have it. Family or friends may often be the first to notice someone with HE is acting differently. Symptoms of HE, which can encompass both mental and physical symptoms, may vary for each person and include:

• Mental symptoms - Forgetfulness, confusion, poor judgement, not knowing where you are or where you are going or personality changes

• Physical symptoms - Changes in sleep pattern, tremors or shaking of hands or arms, slowed or sluggish movement, slurred speech and changes in breath odor

 In the most severe form of HE, people can become unconscious and enter a coma.

These symptoms can have a significant impact on daily life, such as not being able to drive a car, not being able to work and not being able to care for oneself and having to rely on a caregiver. Proper and early treatment and management of HE can help slow its progression before it gets worse.

Treatment Options

Talk to your doctor to learn more about HE and how to manage this condition. Lifestyle changes, such as changes in diet or eliminating certain medications, may also help. 

“Once diagnosed and put on treatment, proper adherence to medication is critical,” says Dr. Franklin.

If you or someone you know has chronic liver disease and begins to experience any symptoms of HE, it’s important to talk to your doctor right away. This is the first step toward helping find an appropriate treatment plan to manage the condition.


Photo Credit: (c) michaelheim / stock.Adobe.com

Odessa, TX

Current Conditions

Humidity: 90%
Winds: S at 6mph
Feels Like: 34°

Your Extended Forecast


High 51°/Low 33°
A few clouds. Lows overnight in the low 30s.


High 52°/Low 37°
Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the low 50s and lows in the upper 30s.


High 63°/Low 40°
Sunny. Highs in the low 60s and lows in the low 40s.
Online Features

Pet Central


Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>



Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>



Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>



Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>

  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com.
    You can read your daily newspaper without taking a walk to the driveway.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
    Call circulation at 432-337-7314 to sign up today.