Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) in St. Louis, MO
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What is PBC (primary biliary cholangitis)?
Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), once known as primary biliary cirrhosis, is a rare chronic liver condition. PBC is a degenerative immune system condition that steadily damages the bile ducts (called the intrahepatic bile ducts) in your liver. Bile helps digest fats and transports away bad cholesterol, impurities, and bilirubin. This condition could also cause other severe issues in the liver. When the bile ducts are harmed or destroyed, then bile can accumulate in your liver and scar the liver. If the liver becomes too damaged, it can cause liver cirrhosis.
If you want to hear more details on this disorder or to receive therapy for primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) in St. Louis, MO, we welcome you to request a consultation at one of our locations. Our Specialists in Gastroenterology providers are equipped to provide individualized care for patients across the nearby areas.
What causes PBC?
Primary biliary cholangitis is an immune system condition. This means that the immune system incorrectly destroys normal tissues and cells. An inflamed liver occurs when white blood cells, referred to as T cells, start to collect and harm healthy liver cells. Swelling in the bile ducts advances to other parts of the liver, harming these cells and producing scarring. As the liver scarring increases, it starts to function incorrectly, resulting in cirrhosis. It is unclear what causes these white blood cells to hurt normal cell tissue, although it appears to be genetic.
Factors of increased risk
A few of the risk factors related to having primary biliary cholangitis include:
- Smoking and other toxic chemicals
- Geography (Primary biliary cholangitis is more prevalent in North America and northern Europe)
- Being 30 to 60 years old
- Being a woman
- Family line (you are at an increased risk of this disorder if a member of the family has gotten it)
- Specific infections
What are the symptoms of PBC?
Typically, PBC symptoms will present five to two decades after diagnosis. The identification of PBC usually takes place while looking for different conditions. The beginning signs of PBC include tiredness, dry eyes and mouth, and itching of the skin.
Additional common signs of PBC include:
- Diarrhea and greasy bowel movements
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Dark skin not related to UV exposure
- High levels of cholesterol
- Upper right abdominal pain
- Muscle soreness
- Joint pain
- Fragile bones
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
It is vital to diagnose PBC as early on as possible. When you suspect you might be in danger of getting PBC caused by genetic history, or any number of the listed signs, our Specialists in Gastroenterology providers are equipped to help.
What are the treatments for PBC?
Presently, there is no cure for PBC. Treatment helps with delaying the progression of the problem and treating the symptoms. A number of the standard treatment options involve:
- Obeticholic acid (aids liver function)
- Ursodeoxycholic acid (works to move bile through your liver)
- Liver transplant
- Cholesterol-lowering medicines (reduce itching and liver inflammation)
- Vitamin supplements
The normal life expectancy for a person with PBC once they start showing symptoms is ten years if they do not receive a liver transplant. Although there is no cure, patients will be able to receive the treatment necessary to gain improved well-being. Our St. Louis, MO gastroenterologists can walk you through the treatment choices available to you.
Get the treatment you seek for PBC
If you believe you may be displaying signs or symptoms of primary biliary cholangitis, please know that compassionate care is within reach. The gastrointestinal providers at your nearest Specialists in Gastroenterology location are proud to provide treatment choices to help you address your liver disease and acquire elevated vitality and quality of life. To consult with a GI specialist who offers care for primary biliary cholangitis in St. Louis, MO, we invite you to contact one of our locations today.
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