Liver cysts refer to the formation of fluid filled sacs within the liver tissue which are primarily associated with malformation within the bile ducts. The cysts can be of varying sizes ranging from as small as pinhead to as large as 10 cms in diameter. In most cases, liver cysts are harmless and don’t interfere with the functional ability of the liver.
There are two basic varieties of liver cyst disorders,
- Simple cysts: These are usually single cysts formed due to abnormalities in the bile ducts. These cysts are solitary and can affect as many as 2.5% of the general population. While simple cysts can affect individual of all ages, its prevalence rises with increasing age.
- Polycystic Liver disease: This is an inherited disorder and tends to affect the entire liver resulting in formation of multiple cysts. This condition may be observed in association with polycystic kidney disease and congenital hepatic fibrosis. The symptoms associated with this condition however are milder than polycystic kidney disease. This condition is known to affect about 1% of the population.
What Causes Liver Cysts?
Unfortunately the causes for liver cysts are not clearly understood, however there are certain factors that have been identified to have an association,
- Liver cysts may be present since birth (as observed in polycystic liver disease) and tend to grow undetected until adulthood.
- Some cysts in the liver may be caused to a parasite Echinococcus, which is found in sheep and enter the human body from the oro-fecal route.
- Obstruction of bile ducts, either due to inflammation or any other cause may also result in formation of cysts in the liver.
Signs And Symptoms Of Liver Cysts
In most cases liver cysts are usually asymptomatic, however very large cysts or multiple cysts may result in enlargement of the liver and increased abdominal girth. Typically on examination, the physician may observe a swelling on the right upper quadrant. Some of the common symptoms observed include,
- Abdominal bloating and distention.
- Very large liver cysts may be associated with pain and tenderness.
- Jaundice i.e. yellowish pigmentation of the skin, sclera is a common symptom associated with very large liver cysts, which may obstruct the flow of bile.
- Reduced appetite and weight loss may be rare symptoms associated with rare complications of liver cysts like liver failure or liver cancer.
The location and size of the cyst can be identified using a ultrasound or a CT scan examination.
Home Remedies For Liver Cysts
While larger liver cysts may need to be removed surgically, there are certain options including diet correction and home remedies that can help in treatment of liver cysts,
- Minimize the intake of fats. Avoid saturated oils, transfats from your diet. Stay away from fermented foods as they can aggravate symptoms like abdominal bloating and flatulence.
- Increase the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Consume foods that are easily digestible. Avoid meat and dairy products.
- Dandelion root is a natural remedy for treatment of liver cysts and a host of other liver disorders. Consume the root in the form of a decoction about three times each day. This will help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with liver cysts.
- Lemon juice is considered very useful to improve liver function. Consume freshly squeezed lemon juice about three times a day. Lemon also helps in detoxification of the liver.
- Radish is another important herb that helps in strengthening the liver and improving liver function.