Should Liver Cysts Be A Cause For Concern?
Liver cysts are usually not high on anyone's list of health concerns. There are a several reasons for this. Most people do not have liver cysts, it has been estimated that no more than 5% of the population (in the United States) are affected. Of those who do have them, only a very small percentage experience symptoms. When symptoms are experienced, they are seldom life threatening or harmful to the liver itself, unless the cyst has been caused by an underlying, and more serious, problem. In fact, the discovery of most cysts are incidental, occurring in the course of looking for something else. When discovered, more often than not little is done about them unless they appear to be causing the symptoms the patient may be experiencing.
Jack Of All Trades And Master Of Most - Still, it's natural to be a little concerned if one is found to have one or more liver cysts. After all, the liver is something we want to keep disease free, and in the best of health. As the liver goes, we go. We can't live without one, and if our liver is functioning abnormally, our quality of life will suffer, perhaps significantly. Our liver, located on the right side of our abdomen, and behind the lower ribs, is the largest internal organ in our body. The liver manufactures bile, which aids in digestion, it produces cholesterol, which our body needs (in spite of what you may read), it filters out wastes, bacteria, and poisons from the blood, and stores vitamins and iron, which are supplied to the blood. The liver also regulates the levels of many chemicals within our body, helps to regulate our immune system, and helps to keep our hormones within proper balance. Few other organs perform so many different tasks. No wonder we want to keep the liver healthy.
Just What Are Liver Cysts? - A liver cyst is simply a cavity in the liver, having a thin outer wall, and often, though not always, filled with a fluid. Liver cysts are usually small and rarely cause problems, unless for some reason they become large enough to cause pain or blockages. The presence of a cyst can cause problems in the liver by blocking or partially blocking the bile duct for example, but this usually not very common. While certain types of liver cysts can be caused by disease, or the presence of parasites, the origin of most cysts is unknown.
We simply don't have a clue most of the time why a cyst is there. We can be born with one, and have it our entire life without feeling any symptoms, or even knowing that we have it. Liver cysts seem for the most part to be benign little things that are just along for the ride. They generally don't cause a problem, and do not seem to have any impact on our life expectancy.
If one were to look at statistics, one might be led to believe that liver cysts are a growing medical problem. What has happened though is, with the advent of ultrasound imaging techniques and CT scanning techniques, liver cysts are being discovered where in earlier times they would have gone undetected. In fact, cysts are often discovered while looking for something else. Even if a cyst is suspected to be the underlying cause of a problem, treatment is usually given only after other possible causes of the symptoms have been eliminated.