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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases & Conditions Arrow to Liver DiseasesLiver Diseases

also see in Health:

The Liver

 

Located just behind the lower right part of the rib cage, and weighing in at about 4 pounds, the liver is largest internal organ in the body, and is responsible for more than 100 functions that help keep the body running smoothly and efficiently.

It metabolizes food, filters out poisons in the blood, produces immune agents to control infections, and can even regenerate itself when part of it has been damaged.

This highly important processing "dynamo", however, may not be given a moment's consideration until it begins to malfunction or becomes diseased.

Because of the relationship between the liver and the body's overall proper functioning, any liver condition left untreated can eventually become very debilitating, and in later stages seriously life threatening.

Liver diseases

diagram showing scarring caused by cirrhosis of the liver
Evidence of scarring is often seen
in cases of advanced cirrhosis
hepatitis c virus
Electron microscope image
of the hepatitis C virus.

The most common serious liver disorders are hepatitis, usually caused by viral infections or medications, unprotected sex, or the use of contaminated syringes ("dirty needles") by drug abusers - and cirrhosis, which is now equally related to both the hepatitis C virus as well as to alcoholism.

Other less common liver conditions include fatty liver syndrome, (usually caused by excess weight or diabetes) as well as primary biliary cirrhosis and sclerosing cholangitis (both autoimmune disorders),and hemochromatosis (iron accumulation in the blood). Genetic factors may also come into play, as in the case of Wilson's disease which is commonly detected in childhood.

liver cancer
Liver cancer can either originate in the
liver, or be carried in the bloodstream
from its original site to the liver.

Symptoms of liver disease

Liver disease symptoms may first appear as a loss of energy or overall feeling of weakness. Mid-stage symptoms may include jaundice, (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) dark urine or light stools, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Late stage symptoms may appear as abdominal swelling, unexplained weight loss or gain, chronic itching due to unprocessed bile deposited in the skin, or abdominal pain.

Treatment of liver disease

Treatment options may vary depending on the causes of liver disease. They may include antiviral medications for hepatitis, or a course of alcoholism treatment & counseling for alcohol-related cirrhosis. Other treatments may be as complex as liver transplantation (in cases of liver cancer), or as simple as a change in diet to help aid the liver in repairing itself.

Diet & prevention

For otherwise healthy patients, most experts suggest a diet low in saturated fats and animal protein, and a decrease or complete abstinence from alcohol as the simplest ways to prevent liver damage or disease. Recent reports have also suggested limiting the use of Tylenol or acetaminophen compounds to reduce occurrences of liver damage caused by overuse of these common pain killers.

More information about liver disease around the Web:

On the Web, learn more about the full spectrum of liver diseases and their causes, including information on major risk factors, symptoms and diagnosis, dietary guidelines and homeopathic treatments, with more on advanced treatments, and the latest on clinical trial results and related research studies ...



American Liver Foundation
- Check out a good intro to the topic with expert overviews of the symptoms of cirrhosis, hepatitis A, B and C, and ways to protect the liver from disease, with more on dietary guidelines, research studies, and related articles

Digestive Diseases - Liver - Get comprehensive facts & information on a variety of liver diseases including symptoms, diagnosis & treatment of cirrhosis, hepatitis, hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease and other conditions, plus more on liver biopsy and liver transplants.


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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