Liver Damage Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

There are many different causes of liver failure or liver damage. If the liver becomes damaged faster than it can repair the tissue, it may result in liver failure. Whenever liver failure occurs, the results can be life threatening. Individuals who believe that they have liver damage should always consult with a qualified medical practitioner.

Liver Damage

What is Liver Damage?

Liver disease happens when something disturbs the liver. For the tissue to be considered damaged, it must have at least 75 percent of the tissue harmed. In a healthy body, the liver performs a wide range of critical functions. It is the biggest solid organ in the entire body. Normally, the liver secretes bile. It is supplied by oxygen through the hepatic artery while portal vein provides* nutrients. If the body is working correctly, the veins will transport the blood to the heart while the portal vein will bring chemicals into the liver that need to be filtered. The liver filters these chemicals out before returning the blood to the body. When an infection or substance causes harm to the tissue, the liver may become damaged and stop* detoxifying the body correctly.

What Factors are Responsible for Liver Damage?

Liver damage is normally associated with long term alcohol consumption or cirrhosis. In reality, a wide range of ailments can cause the liver to become damage. Hepatitis B, hepatitis A and hepatitis C can harm the liver and lead to damage. This is especially true if hepatitis is present in children. In addition, malnutrition and hemochromatosis can cause liver damage. Individuals can also damage their liver through the foods and medications that they ingest. Acetaminophen is a leading cause of liver damage. Other herbal supplements and prescriptions can lead to liver damage. Individuals can also develop liver problems if they eat poisonous wild mushrooms.

What are The Symptoms of Liver Damage?

In the initial phases, patients may not notice any symptoms. They may also assume that these symptoms are caused by another medical problem. Early symptoms of liver damage may include excessive fatigue, diarrhea, nausea or a decreased* appetite. If the individual does not treat* the damage immediately, the condition will continue to progress. They may develop jaundice or a swollen abdomen. Their body may bleed easily and the bleeding may be difficult to stop*. Over time, they may develop a state of mental confusion or disorientation. In severe cases, the patient may slip into a coma.

How Can Liver Damage Cause Water Retention Problems?

The liver is a vital organ within the human body. It is responsible for detoxing the body and transforming waste into urine. If it cannot perform these tasks, the body can be flooded with excess waste, toxins and fluid. This excess fluid is reabsorbed into the body’s tissue and can become water retention. When water retention occurs alongside liver damage, individuals have to be extremely careful in their treatment method. Herbal supplements and medication can be tough on the liver. To prevent further damage, patients should only use herbal supplements and treatments that are recommended by their doctor.

How Can Liver Damage be Prevented?

Since the liver is such an important part of the body, individuals should make sure to do everything they can to prevent liver damage. The easiest prevention measure is to become vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis C can be prevented by not sharing needles or using intravenous drugs. Tattoos should only be done in a sanitary environment and blood products should be avoided. Likewise, a condom should be used during sexual intercourse to prevent sexually contracted hepatitis. Since alcohol can cause cirrhosis, individuals should only drink in moderation. Due to drug interactions, alcohol should never be consumed along with acetaminophen. A healthy diet that includes all of the food groups can also help to ensure that the body is protected from liver damage.

How is Liver Damage Diagnosed and Treated?

To diagnose liver damage, the doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. They will examine the symptoms and perform a blood test. They may test for protein levels, AST, ALT, GGT, bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase and albumin levels. Although these are the most common blood tests, they may also perform a complete blood count or look at the levels of ammonia in the blood.

The treatment process depends on the cause and severity of the liver damage. With hepatitis A, the patient may only have to drink water while it fights off the infection. Individuals with cirrhosis or severe liver damage may have to take medication or limit the amount of protein in their diet. They may also be prescribed water pills to remove* water retention. This is normally done in conjunction with a low-sodium diet. In some cases, a liver transplant may be done.

Liver damage can be life threatening. Ideally, individuals should be careful of the alcohol, medications and food that they consume in order to prevent any liver damage. If this is not possible, they should visit a medical practitioner to be treated.

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Author

Expert Author : Emily Clark (Consumer Health Digest)

Emily Clark is a medical writer with years of experience. She can be found residing in Maywood, Illinois, researching and writing on recent advances in medicine.