Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) in San Antonio, TX

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Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), once referred to as primary biliary cirrhosis, is an uncommon chronic liver disease. PBC is an ongoing autoimmune condition that slowly harms the bile ducts (known as the intrahepatic bile ducts) within the liver. Bile helps in digesting fats and rids your body of fat, impurities, and bilirubin. This disease might also cause serious concerns within your liver. If the bile ducts become injured or destroyed, then bile can accumulate in your liver and create scarring. If the liver becomes too damaged, it can lead to cirrhosis.

If you want to learn more details on this problem or to obtain help for primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) in San Antonio, TX, we welcome you to request an appointment with us. Our San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates specialists are proud to render personalized care for individuals within the nearby areas.

Primary biliary cholangitis is an autoimmune condition, meaning that your immune system mistakenly destroys healthy tissues and cells. The inflammation of the liver is caused if white blood cells, called T cells (T lymphocytes), start to accumulate and harm healthy cells within the liver. Swelling in the small ducts spreads to other portions of the liver, killing those cells and leading to scar tissue. Once the liver scars more and more, it starts to work improperly, leading to cirrhosis. It is not clear what causes these white blood cells to hurt normal cell tissue, but it seems to be largely attributable to genetic factors.

Factors of increased risk

Several of the risk determiners related to having primary biliary cholangitis are:

  • Being 30 – 60 years old
  • Certain infections
  • Being female
  • Genetics (you are at an increased risk of primary biliary cholangitis if a family member has had it)
  • Region or country (primary biliary cholangitis is most prevalent in North America and northern Europe)
  • Tobacco and other toxic chemicals

If you believe that you are at an increased risk of developing PBC, it is very important that you discuss your concerns with your San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates provider.

Typically, signs of PBC do not show up until five years to two decades following diagnosis. The identification of PBC commonly takes place while testing for different disorders. The beginning symptoms of PBC are tiredness, dry mouth and eyes, and skin itching.

Additional standard markers of PBC include:

  • Brittle bones
  • Dark-colored skin not connected to UV rays
  • Muscle soreness
  • Painful joints
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Swollen feet and ankles
  • High levels of cholesterol
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen
  • Loose and greasy bowel movements

Early diagnosis is important when managing PBC. Our San Antonio, TX GI providers can partner with you to look for signs of PBC and offer support when discussing available treatment options. 

Presently, there is no way to reverse PBC. However, medical intervention can aid in slowing the development of the problem and treating the complications. A number of the common treatment choices include:

  • Cholesterol-lowering medicines (reduce itching and liver inflammation)
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Exercise
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid (helps move bile through the liver)
  • Liver transplant surgery
  • Obeticholic acid (improves liver health)

The typical expected lifespan for an individual with PBC once they begin displaying signs is a decade if they do not receive a healthy liver from a donor. Though there is no cure, you will be able to receive the therapy required to live a better life. Our digestive providers are ready to walk you through the options for treatment available to you.

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If you or a member of your family could be showing the symptoms or signs of PBC, please know that personalized care is available. The GI specialists at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates are happy to discuss therapy options to help you manage this liver condition and achieve elevated health and wellness. To find a gastroenterologist with expertise in the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis in San Antonio, TX, we encourage you to contact a location in your community.

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Outstanding doctor. This is my second endoscopy procedure done by Dr Alvarez. Both procedures were done with no complications and in a timely manner. Outstanding medical staff. Great job Dr Alvarez and staff!!!

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