Health is not valued till sickness comes. Protect yourself against liver failure or any major ailments. Learn more about liver failure symptoms…

The liver is the largest organ in the body. It is involved with almost all of the biochemical pathways that allow growth, supply nutrients, fights against diseases and aid reproduction. Liver cells also known as hepatocytes go through thousands of complex biochemical reactions every second to perform these various functions. A healthy liver is critical to proper protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism.

Liver failure is a condition in which a large portion of the liver is damaged, causing severe problems with liver function. Liver failure may develop rapidly over days or weeks or gradually over months or years. Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that demands urgent medical care. The most common causes of liver failure are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, long term excessive consumption of alcohol, Cirrhosis, Hemochromatosis and malnutrition.

Liver Failure Symptoms

Symptoms can be varied and subtle in the early stages of the problem. The most common symptoms are as follows:

Poor appetite is one of the most common symptom which results in weight loss. Improper metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates complicates the situation. Other symptoms include nausea, fatigue and diarrhea coupled with easy bleeding and impaired brain function.However, as liver failure progresses, the symptoms become more serious indicating urgent treatment. These symptoms include:

Jaundice

Jaundice is a condition in which a person’s skin and the whites of the eyes are discolored yellow due to an increased level of bile pigments in the blood resulting from liver disease. Jaundice is sometimes called icterus, from a Greek word for the condition. Jaundice is usually the first signs of liver failure.

Cholestasis: It is a condition of reduced or stopped bile flow. The bile flow may be blocked inside or outside the liver. Cholestasis is characterized by:

•           Jaundice

•           Dark urine and pale stools

•           Bone loss

•           Itching

•           Fluid in the abdominal activity

•           Enlarged gall bladder

•           Enlarged spleen

•           Small, spider-like blood vessels visible in the skin

•           Bone loss

Portal Hypertension

It is a condition where abnormally high blood pressure exists in the portal vein, which supplies the liver with blood from the intestine. This symptom may occur due to increased blood pressure in the portal blood vessels or resistance to blood flow through the liver. It can lead to the growth of collateral vessels that connect to the general circulation, bypassing the liver.

As a result, substances that would normally be eliminated by the liver pass into the general circulation. Symptoms include a distended abdominal cavity (ascites) and bleeding of the varicose veins at the lower end of the esophagus and in the stomach lining. Ascites is fluid build-up in the abdominal cavity caused by fluid leaks from the surface of the liver and intestine. Symptoms of ascites may include a distended abdominal cavity causing discomfort and shortness of breath. However, please be aware that ascites may also be caused by non-liver disorders.

Liver encephalopathy

Liver encephalopathy is the deterioration of the brain function due to toxic substances developing in blood which are normally removed by the liver. Also known as portal-systemic encephalopathy or hepatic coma, its symptoms include impaired consciousness, changes in logical thinking, personality, and behavioural mood changes, impaired judgement, drowsiness, confusion, sluggish speech and movement, disorientation, loss of consciousness and coma.

Excessive use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause liver problems. People who consume many herbal and alternative medications are also prone to serious risks that may result in damaging their liver. Overweight patients are at a higher risk of developing a fatty liver. Maintaining a healthy body weight with a healthy diet and regular exercise is vital in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Patients with chronic liver diseases should also maintain a generally healthy diet. Individuals with liver disease caused by alcohol should never consume alcohol.