Liver Dysfunctions That You Should Know About

As the second biggest organ found in the body, at the size of a football, the liver is in charge for many different functions in the body. Not only does the liver process every intake of food or fluids to create energy, it also rids the body of harmful elements, keeping it in optimal health. It is really a hardworking organ, but subjecting it to the worst kinds of lifestyles (alcohol abuse and overeating, to name a few) overtime can and will lead to terrible consequences.

Liver dysfunctions can hit even when you think you are a young, healthy, and vibrant individual as these can be inherited. Some people only learn that they have a liver problem once it has progressed, thanks to their obliviousness to their family’s medical history.

Symptoms of dysfunctions of the liver may include, but are not limited to abdominal pain and swelling, skin itchiness, loss of appetite due to nausea and vomiting, chronic fatigue, jaundice, dark colored urine, as well as pale or bloody stool. It is best to see a doctor immediately if sharp abdominal pains are already being felt or if any of the abovementioned symptoms have continued for quite some time.

If untreated, damage of the liver may progress to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the replacement of normal liver tissues with non-living scarred tissues, causing the liver to fail or eventually malfunction.

Types of Liver Dysfunctions

The most common types of liver dysfunctions are as follows:

Alcohol-Related Liver Diseases

Fatty liver or also known as steatosis is possibly the most common of all alcohol-related liver dysfunctions. It occurs, and is diagnosed rather early, as it is characterized by too much buildup of fat inside the liver cells causing the liver to perform poorly. A fatty liver may be healed if drinking is discontinued but otherwise, it can result to graver diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis as well as alcohol-related cirrhosis.

Autoimmune Hepatitis

This is a life-threatening, chronic dysfunction wherein the body’s immune system attacks healthy liver cells causing it to become inflamed. It occurs suddenly as symptoms are usually minor and can be felt like a mild flu at first. Women who are prone, or who already have other autoimmune diseases may have higher risk of developing this liver dysfunction.

Biliary Atresia

Biliary Atresia is described as a liver disease affecting only infants, wherein the bile ducts become inflamed and causes bile to remain in the liver further causing cirrhosis. Its symptoms begin to appear within two to six months after birth. The infant may appear jaundiced and the abdomen would be swollen. It is not clear what causes this disease but it is known that Biliary Atresia is not hereditary nor is it contagious.

Hepatitis A, B, and C

All these types of Hepatitis are caused by viruses that damage the liver through swelling. People who are affected by Hepatitis A and B generally show symptoms like loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, and abdominal pain, while Hepatitis C rarely show symptoms thus is harder to diagnose.

Hepatitis, in general, can cause other serious health problems if not treated with proper medication. Hepatitis A can lead to acute hepatitis, while Hepatitis C results in chronic hepatitis in most patients, leading to a lifetime of medication or worse, liver cancer or liver failure.

Liver Cancer

Long-term infection to Hepatitis B or C is linked to the development of liver cancer as these dysfunctions often lead to cirrhosis. Heavy drinkers and obese individuals are also at a higher risk to develop liver cancer. Symptoms include jaundice, bloating, pains on the right side of the upper abdomen, loss of appetite, and fatigue. There are various treatments depending on the stage of liver cancer including liver transplant, Cryosurgery (the freezing and destruction of cancer cells), or radiation therapy.

Wilson’s Disease

Wilson’s Disease is inherited and already present at the birth of the child. However, symptoms only start to show between ages six to 20 and can only manifest later in life as late as age 40. This is a dysfunction characterized by the liver’s retention of excess copper. This build up damages the organ over time and released the excess copper directly into the bloodstream, causing damage to the kidneys, brain, and eyes. If ignored, it can cause liver failure, brain damage, or even death.

Harrowing as these dysfunctions are, there are prevention measures available to ensure we do not subject ourselves to future liver diseases or at least lessen the damage to pre-existing ones. Safeguarding yourself by living a healthier lifestyle by not overeating and drinking heavily can already make heaps of good to your liver and your whole body.

 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic. Liver disease. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20374502

National Health Service. 2017, September 10. Liver disease. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/liver-disease/

Wu, B and Sethi, S. 2018, June 25. What You Should Know About Hepatic Failure. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatic-failure

American Liver Foundation. Retrieved from https://liverfoundation.org/

 

 

 

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