Latest News:
back to top

Being Diagnosed With Liver Disease

Most people learn they have a liver problem from their GP, often as a result of routine blood tests. Liver Function Tests (LFTS) may often show abnormalities, so your doctor should look at other symptoms and test results before reaching a diagnosis.

It is quite common for the GP to ask you to return in a few months for a repeat test after an abnormal LFT. It is essential that you do follow-up or request a repeat test. Many treatments for liver disease are more effective if the problem is diagnosed early.

Deciding who to tell

Being diagnosed with a liver disease can be upsetting and worrying. It can be comforting to talk to close friends and family. Discussing your condition with people you are close to can help them to understand some of the lifestyle changes you may need to make and allow them to offer support. However, you will want to think carefully before sharing the news more widely. Consider the reactions you may get - are you confident people will be supportive and respect your confidentiality? It is often better to gather more information about your condition and take some time to consider what it means to you and your family, before sharing the news widely.

It is sadly true that people with some medical conditions can suffer discrimination in work or social settings. This can be because some people have preconceived ideas, particularly around alcohol or viral hepatitis. By first understanding your condition yourself you will be able to address any concerns which may be raised.

There are some people you may need to tell so that they can take precautions to protect your health or their own. It is important to tell any medical practitioner about your liver disease before they offer treatment or give you any medications. If you have viral hepatitis, medical practitioners need to know so that they can take additional precautions to prevent cross-infection of other patients. As hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through sex, you have a legal obligation to protect your sexual partners, through practicing safer sex and/or disclosing your status.

Insurance and mortgages

Diagnosis of a liver disease may affect your ability to obtain a life insurance policy or a mortgage linked to a life policy, or the premium may increase. If this happens, it is worth talking to your doctor as many consultants are willing to write to a mortgage or insurance company stating your health and life expectancy. Travel insurance may also be more difficult to obtain.It is important that you tell insurance companies about any pre-existing conditions or conditions which develop while you have cover, as this could affect your entitlement if you need to make a claim.Not all insurance companies are the same and so it is worth trying several.

Employment and Occupational Health issues

It is best to refer to your company’s policies and guidelines for sickness and disability before deciding whether to tell your employer of your illness. It may be necessary to tell your employer if your condition could pose a risk to other people, for example, if you are a healthcare professional and carry viral hepatitis, or if your symptoms make certain work dangerous, such as operating machinery.Although there are certain legal protections against discrimination, telling your colleagues or your employer may not be necessary or helpful for you. It is important to think carefully before making this decision and perhaps discuss it with your healthcare team.

You may find it helpful to join a British Liver Trust support group at this stage, as other members will be able to share their experiences and give you support.