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Liver Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Home Health & Fitness Medicine
By: Rick Hutch Email Article
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Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It is also one of the most important. The liver has many jobs, including changing food into energy and cleaning alcohol and poisons from the blood. Your liver also makes bile, a yellowish-green liquid that helps with digestion.

Fulminate hepatic failure is defined as when the failure occurs within 8 weeks of the onset of the underlying illness. Late onset hepatic failure, also called sub acute fulminate hepatic failure, is when there has been a gap of 8 to 26 weeks. The difference may not be immediately obvious as the underlying disease may have been present for a long time but undiagnosed. If the latent period is over 6 months it is chronic decompensated hepatic failure.

Acute liver failure - development of hepatic encephalopathy (confusion, stupor and coma) and decreased production of proteins (such as albumin and blood clotting proteins) within four weeks of the first symptoms (such as jaundice) of a liver problem. "Hyper acute" liver failure is said to be present if this interval is 7 days or less, while "sub acute" liver failure is said to be present if the interval is 5-12 weeks.


Liver disease can be caused by a variety of factors. Causes include:

* congenital birth defects, or abnormalities of the liver present at birth * metabolic disorders, or defects in basic body processes * viral or bacterial infections

Bile, a greenish-yellow fluid consisting of bile acids (or salts) and waste products, such as bile pigments, flows through small bile ducts inside the liver. The bile flows from these small ducts into larger ones, like streams into a river, eventually leading to the common bile duct. The cystic duct connects the common bile duct to the gallbladder. After eating, the gallbladder, a fist-sized organ that sits next to the liver and stores bile, releases bile into the small intestine where it helps to digest fats.


Patients with mild liver disease may have few or no symptoms or signs. Patients with more serious disease develop symptoms and signs that may be nonspecific or specific. Nonspecific symptoms, that is, symptoms that don't suggest that the liver is their cause, include:

* Fatigue, * Weakness,

Cancer in the liver may be primary or secondary, also called met static. Primary cancer arises within the liver and in its early stages exists only within the liver. People who have hepatitis B or C, viral infections of the liver, or cirrhosis of the liver are more likely than other people to develop primary liver cancer. At an early stage primary liver cancer may cause no symptoms at all. More advanced disease may cause loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, fatigue and weakness.


If detected early enough, acute liver failure caused by an overdose of acetaminophen can sometimes be treated and its effects reversed. Likewise, if a virus causes liver failure, supportive care can be given at a hospital to treat the symptoms until the virus runs its course. In these cases the liver will sometimes recover on its own.

If your body mass index is above 25, a diet and exercise program may reduce the amount of accumulated fat in your liver. The most effective diet is rich in fiber and low in calories and saturated fat, with total fat accounting for no more than 30 percent of total calories. But go slowly. Aim to lose 10 percent of your body weight over six months, because rapid weight loss may lead to a worsening of liver disease. Even if you aren't overweight or obese, a healthy diet and daily physical activity may reduce inflammation, lower elevated levels of liver enzymes and decrease insulin resistance.

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