Liver Failure - Health Center

Liver Failure

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Liver Failure - Overview

Liver failure is known to be a life threatening condition in which there happens to be a severe weakening of the liver. The liver is known to be a vital organ within the upper right area of the abdomen right above the ribs.

One of the major causes for the occurrence of liver failure is the liver damage of the person which makes it very tough for the person to function normally and this leads to the impairment in the critical functioning of the normal body processes of the person. 

Some of the major complications which arise from the liver failure are the clotting of the blood, clearing of the toxins from the blood, fighting of the infection, creation of the bile, metabolizing of the food, production of proteins and enzymes in the body, removal of the waste products as well as the storing of the vitamins, minerals as well as energy.

Generally, there are two different types of liver failures:

  1. Acute Liver Failure: This type of liver failure is the one which occurs all of the sudden and therefore, leads to the overdose of the acetaminophen as well as leads to the ingestion of the toxic substances within the body.
  2. Chronic Liver Failure: This is the one which leads to the deterioration of the liver function of the affected person. This generally takes a long time to incubate over the period of time. This is known to be one of the most common forms of liver failure and therefore, causes long term liver diseases such as the cirrhosis of the liver as well as hemochromatosis.

In the initial stages of the disease, the symptoms can come out to be very vague as well as very similar to some other less similar disease. One of the major symptom during the occurrence of the disease can be jaundice; the yellowing of the skin as well as the whites of the eyes. During the acute liver failure, the reversal as well as the curing of the disease becomes increasingly difficult.

Liver failure is known to be increasingly threatening to life as it leads to the decrease in the overall functioning of the liver and therefore can prove to be fatal to the affected person.

Signs And Symptoms Of Liver Failure

The signs and symptoms of liver failure may not be very specific.

They can come out to be familiar with the symptoms of many other diseases such as indigestion or even chronic fatigue syndrome.

Some of the major early symptoms are as follows:

  1. Diarrhoea
  2. Oedema (excessive swelling) of the legs
  3. Fatigue
  4. General feeling of illness
  5. Lack of appetite
  6. Weakness

In case of the advanced liver failure, the development of severe symptoms such as portal hypertension as well as oesophageal varices may occur. 

In case of advanced disease, the symptoms are as follows:

  1. Astices – building up of the fluid as well as swelling of abdomen.
  2. Excessive bleeding with the vomiting in the blood as well as rectal bleeding.
  3. Change in the level of consciousness of the person. This can lead to the change in the level of alertness of the person.
  4. Change in the mental status as well as change in the sudden behaviour of the person.
  5. Increased deliriums, lethargy as well as delusions.
  6. Jaundice like conditions; yellowing of the skin and the eyes.
  7. Shakiness of the muscles.
  8. Difficulty in breathing.

Causative Factors For Liver Failure

Since liver failure is the one which causes a great damage to the liver of an affected person. The usual first symptoms towards the disease tend to be the inflammation as well as the enlargement of the liver of the affected person. This can however be easily reversed with the help of medications. In case, this is left untreated, it can result in the fibrosis of the tissues. This scarring of the liver causes the tissue to work in an unusual way. In case this is not treated, then it leads to the cirrhosis in a person, in which the liver is damaged on a permanent basis. In case this advancement of the disease is not stopped at the primary stage, it can cause liver failure.

However, some of the other underlying factors which cause the liver failure are as follows:

  1. Excessive use of alcohol.
  2. Auto- immune hepatitis – in this the immune system attacks the liver of the affected person.
  3. Biliary atresia and secondary biliary cirrhosis – this leads to the blocking of the bile ducts and therefore, leads to the accumulation of bile in the liver.
  4. Hepatitis B or C
  5. Congestive heart failure
  6. Cystic Fibrosis (this leads to the accumulation of mucus in the liver, lungs and other organs of the body)
  7. Storage of Glycogen
  8. Hemochromatosis (excessive level of iron in the body of the person, causing liver damage)
  9. Malnutrition
  10. Excessive overdose of drugs, such as Tylenol.
  11. Poisoning or the overexposure to toxics
  12. Severe or acute Hepatitis A
  13. Wilson’s disease – this is an inherited condition which leads to the excessive amount of copper in the body of the affected person.

Major Risk Factors Towards Liver Failure

There are a number of factors which are responsible for the development of liver disease.

Some of the major risk factors that can increase the chances of a person to develop liver failure are as follows:

  1. Alcoholism
  2. Coronary Heart Disease – this is due to the hardening of the arteries
  3. Diabetes
  4. Exposure towards chemicals such as arsenic
  5. Overexposure towards hepatitis
  6. Obesity

Reducing The Risks Of The Liver Failure

The following measures can be used in order to reduce the risk factors for development of liver failure:

  1. Make sure that you avoid measures to contract hepatitis. This may include abstaining from unprotected sex with more than one partner and not using tattoos or sharing needles during drug use.
  2. Decreasing the intake of alcohol.
  3. Making sure that you follow a regular health care regimen and keep a treatment plan available for the chronic disease. Also keep a tab on diseases such as obesity, diabetes as well as high cholesterol and coronary heart disease.

Treatment Of Liver Failure

When the scar tissue is formed in the liver due to the advanced liver disease, then it can come out to be a permanent feature. Therefore, the major aim of the treatment is to make sure that the damage to the liver is minimized and kept well within the limits.

Therefore, the treatment for the disease includes a regimen of approaches which can be determined on the basis of the disease as well as the level of the failure.

  1. Makes sure that you abstain from alcohol completely and this means that you should be indulging in an alcohol treatment plan.
  2. In case of hepatitis, make sure that you use the corticosteroid drugs which are used to treat the hepatitis infection.
  3. Liver transplant is another option for the people suffering from liver failure. This surgery can make sure that a healthy liver is replaced in place of the diseased one.

Complications Arising From Liver Failure

Some of the major life threatening complications which arise from Liver failure are as follows:

  1. Ascties: This is a build-up of the fluid which leads to the swelling of the abdomen.
  2. Oesophageal Varices: The swelling of the veins of the oesophagus take place due to the portal hypertension in people. The bulging of the veins can come out to lead a haemorrhage like condition in people.
  3. Hepatic Encephalopathy: this causes the change in the brain and can lead to the coma and death in people.
  4. Failure of the kidneys
  5. Portal Hypertension, as this results in the high blood pressure in people which can lead to oesophageal varices and therefore, other problems.
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