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
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.
important processing "dynamo", however, may not be given
a moment's consideration until it begins to malfunction or becomes
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.
Evidence of scarring is often seen
in cases of advanced cirrhosis
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 can either originate in the
liver, or be carried in the bloodstream
original site to the liver.
Symptoms of 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
Treatment of liver disease
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.
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 ...
- 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
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.
is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.