Some Life Threatening Liver Problems

The liver is the largest organ in the body. It plays a vital role and is responsible for the functioning of various body organs. The primary function of the liver is to control the flow and safety of the substances that are absorbed by the digestive system before the distribution of these substances to the systemic circulatory system. The liver is vital to the body and any problem to the liver can lead to the impairment of various body organs. In fact, total loss of liver function could lead to death within minutes.  

There is a large number of liver diseases and some of the common types of liver diseases are as follows:

1. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is defined as the group of conditions which are characterized by the accumulation of excess fat in the liver of people who do not consume alcohol.  The most common type of disease in this group is known as fatty liver. In fatty liver, the fat is accumulated in the cells of the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one of the common diseases and people who are overweight, have diabetes, and have cholesterol level are at high risk of developing this disease.

Many times, people having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease have no symptoms. But some may experience some symptoms such as fatigue and abdominal pain. Pain can occur in the center or in the right part of the abdomen. This disease is slow in progression, but it causes the inflammation in the liver. Obesity is considered to be the most common cause of the development of this disease.

2. Cirrhosis of the liver

Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious liver disease which occurs when permanent damage is caused to the liver. Whenever the liver is attacked by something, the cells of the liver are killed and the scar tissue is formed. This process of scarring is known as fibrosis. The scarring happens very slowly and it can take several months. When the whole liver is scarred, it shrinks and hardens. This condition is known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is accompanied by a wide range of symptoms such as itchy skin, yellow discoloration of the skin and the eyes, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.

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Although cirrhosis is a slowly progressive disease, it is a serious condition and requires immediate treatment. If it is left untreated, it can lead to the occurrence of complications such as liver failure, liver cancer, and even death. Portal hypertension is the common complication of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can cause the liver to become stiff, that prevents the blood to flow through the liver. This leads to the buildup of pressure in the portal veins and this high pressure in the portal vein is known as portal hypertension. There are many causes of cirrhosis such as consumption of alcohol, obesity and some reactions of the drugs.

3. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is defined as an infectious liver disease which is caused by the virus, known as hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is a common viral disease which is spread easily from one person to another by getting into contact with anything that is contaminated by the person suffering from hepatitis A. Hepatitis is basically defined as an inflammation of the liver. Not all people having hepatitis A will have symptoms, but some people experience symptoms such as fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, and abdominal discomfort.

Vaccination is often recommended to people. There is a vaccine that will prevent people from getting sick from hepatitis A. Most often, the vaccination is recommended to all the children at the age of 1 and the travelers to travel to the countries where hepatitis A is common. Two doses of the vaccine are required for complete protection and these doses are given at the interval of six months apart.  

4. Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a serious disease that affects the liver. It is an infection that is caused by the virus hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is categorized into two:

  • Acute hepatitis B – It is a short term illness that occurs within 6 months of an exposure and it is accompanied by symptoms like fever, nausea, jaundice, pain in the muscles, loss of appetite, and joints.
  • Chronic hepatitis B – It is a long term illness and it remains in the individual’s body. It can cause serious diseases such as liver failure and cirrhosis.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through the body fluids which triggers the immune reaction and causes inflammation of the liver, results in liver damage.

5. Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a disease which is caused by the virus hepatitis C. An infection of hepatitis C can be very serious and it can spread from one person to another through an infected blood. It is often known as a silent disease as it may not cause any symptom. Having a sexually transmitted disease or having sex with multiple people increases the risk of developing hepatitis C.

Tags: Liver disease symptoms, Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Liver disease treatment

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.