The liver is the second largest organ in the body. It works hard, performing hundreds of complex functions, including:
- Controlling cholesterol levels
- Removing toxins, such as alcohol, from the body
- Fighting infections and illness
- Helping blood to clot
There are more than 100 different types of liver disease. It can be caused by a variety of factors that damage the liver, such as viruses and alcohol use. Obesity is also associated with liver damage.
Over time, damage to the liver results in cirrhosis, which can lead to liver failure, a life-threatening condition.
Liver Disease Symptoms include:
- Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Dark urine color
- Loss of appetite
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pale stool color, or bloody
Parasites and viruses can infect the liver, causing inflammation and that reduces liver function. The most common types of liver infection are hepatitis viruses, including: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
Factors that may increase your risk of liver disease include:
- Injecting drugs using shared needles
- Heavy alcohol use
- Unprotected sex
- Tattoos or body piercings
- Exposure to other people’s blood and body fluids
- High levels of triglycerides in your blood
- Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins
Liver failure means that your liver is losing or has lost all of its function. It is a life-threatening condition that demands urgent medical care.
Because these symptoms can have any number of causes, it may be hard to tell that the liver is failing.
But as liver failure progresses, the symptoms become more serious. The patient may become confused and disoriented, and extremely sleepy. There is a risk of coma and death. Immediate treatment is needed.
That’s why it’s important to catch liver disease early, in the inflammation and fibrosis stages. If you are treated successfully at these stages, your liver may have a chance to heal itself and recover.