Spreading Awareness of PBC Throughout the Month of September

Your liver conducts numerous key functions in the digestive system, like cleaning toxic substances from the blood, holding onto nutrients, and helping to control glucose levels in the body. Within this organ, a series of narrow ducts referred to as bile ducts take the bile to the small intestine to help with digestion. If these tubes become blocked or deteriorate, it impedes normal liver function. A type of condition that can harm the bile ducts is a progressive disease termed primary biliary cholangitis (PBC).

In honor of September being Primary Biliary Cholangitis Awareness Month, we seek to educate our community and readers about this concerning liver condition. In the majority of cases, individuals with primary biliary cholangitis are females between 40 – 60 years of age, but males as well as women under the age of 40 may also be diagnosed. In the absence of care, PBC can end up causing liver failure and necessitate a liver transplant.

The early detection of the primary biliary cholangitis is essential to generating the best possible result for your liver health. A gastroenterologist can identify primary biliary cholangitis and identify treatment options that will help reduce the speed of disease advancement. If you may be at risk for PBC, reach out to Digestive Health Associates of Texas. Our Dallas, TX gastroenterologists can provide personalized treatment and help you control the condition.

What should I know about PBC?

Primary biliary cholangitis is a rare but progressive disease during which a person's immune system causes damage to the bile ducts. When this occurs, it results in inflammation that gradually harms the bile ducts. When bile is not able to travel into the small bowel, it collects in the liver and causes liver damage. PBC was formerly referred to as primary biliary cirrhosis, but the name was altered to prevent confusion with alcohol and drug-related liver diseases. Even though the precise causes of PBC are not known, healthcare professionals think the body’s autoimmune response could be instigated by factors related to a person's environment or their genetic makeup.

Are there any common symptoms of primary biliary cholangitis?

During its beginning phases, primary biliary cholangitis could present no obvious symptoms, making it critical to get periodic lab testing to assess liver function. Individuals who do exhibit PBC symptoms might report:

  • Dry eyes
  • Exhaustion
  • Pruritus (itching)
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)

Once the condition becomes worse, the injury to the liver could cause cirrhosis, a situation where scar tissue accumulates in the liver and diminishes its ability to function as normal. The clinical indications of serious damage to the liver include:

  • Yellowing skin (jaundice)
  • Discomfort in the abdomen
  • Unintentional loss of weight
  • Skin lesions containing fat and cholesterol (xanthomas)
  • Edema or swollen feet and ankles

If you or a family member exhibit any of these symptoms, please seek medical treatment right away. You can talk with a GI doctor near you by calling Digestive Health Associates of Texas. Our physicians treat patients throughout the Dallas, TX region who are experiencing PBC and other types of liver disease.

How is PBC detected?

A digestive health specialist can screen people for primary biliary cholangitis by examining certain chemicals in the blood that are connected to liver function. Increased levels of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and the presence of antimitochondrial antibodies (AMAs) in the bloodstream could indicate primary biliary cholangitis. Advanced imaging tests may also be carried out to evaluate the bile ducts and liver to scan for evidence of deterioration. These diagnostic tests can help dismiss other potential causes of liver impairment. In instances where the exact condition is still uncertain, a liver tissue biopsy could be carried out. During a biopsy test, a small sampling of the individual's liver tissue is excised and sent to a laboratory to be assessed under a microscope by an expert.

Can primary biliary cholangitis be treated?

While there is no known cure for PBC, certain medications may help delay the advancement of the liver problem. Ursodiol, a naturally occurring bile acid, is frequently used to help bile flow more freely from the liver to the small intestine. When taken early in the progression of the disease, ursodiol can increase the function of the liver and help delay the need to undergo liver transplantation. Side effects of PBC, such as dry eyes, elevated cholesterol, and itchy skin, might additionally be controlled and addressed with medication therapy.

Get treatment for primary biliary cholangitis in Dallas, TX

If you or a loved one may have primary biliary cholangitis, understand that personalized help is available from Digestive Health Associates of Texas. With a distinguished team of gastroenterology specialists, Digestive Health Associates of Texas offers innovative services and applies forward-thinking research to treating liver problems, including PBC. Reach out to our office in Dallas, TX today to find out more about PBC and innovative options for care.