Liver Failure – Symptoms & Causes

Before we talk about liver failure, let me highlight some important functions of liver. The liver is the largest organ of the body and is responsible for important tasks. It produces bile, removes toxins from the body, controls blood clotting and amino acid. The liver also stores substantial amount of fat soluble Vitamins, iron and copper. It breaks down old and damaged red blood cells in the body. The liver is also responsible for all life-supporting functions. So, what happens if it fails.


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Here are the symptoms of liver failure:

  • Pain and swelling in the stomach
  • Jaundice (eyes & skin looks yellowish)
  • Urine color is dark
  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Inflamed skin
  • Pale stool color
  • Confusion
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bruising easily
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
liver failure
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The liver takes care of the critical functions in our body such as producing bile, which aids in digestion of the food, eradicates harmful toxins, enzyme activation, metabolizes drugs, breaks down saturated fat and stores sugar in the form of glycogen. A liver failure happens when the major part of the liver stops working and is not able to perform the tasks as mentioned. It is also a severe medical condition and requires immediate attention. There are two kinds of liver failure:

Acute Liver Failure:

It is a rare condition, in which the liver stops working rapidly within a time frame of 48 hours or so. This state is difficult to detect as usually a person doesn’t have any prior liver ailment. Acute liver failure is also referred to as fulminant hepatic failure, which can lead to serious damage and requires hospitalization.  The reasons of Acute Liver Failure are as follows:

  • Virus infection like Hepatitis A, B and E and other viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus can cause sudden liver failure.
  • Overdose of Acetaminophen like Tylenol or reaction of other medications including antidepressants, antibiotics, herbal supplements.
  • Toxins including poisonous wild mushroom, industrial chemicals harm the liver cell.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis is a serious condition, in which the immune system turns against liver cells causing infection.
  • Vascular disorder, which causes blockage in the veins.
  • Metabolic liver disorder is a condition where an unusual chemical reaction disturbs the body’s metabolism.
  • Septic shock can impair blood flow to the liver, it is a constant inflammation causing damage to the liver.
  • When excess fat accumulates in the liver it is known as Acute fatty liver of pregnancy, it leads to liver failure.
  • Cancer that starts to spread to your liver can also result in liver failure.
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Chronic Liver Failure:

In this the liver starts to get damaged gradually, over the period of time. Chronic liver failure or cirrhosis is a condition in which the scar tissues substitute normal functioning liver tissue. The potential causes are:

  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Virus like Hepatitis A and B
  • Hemochromatosis is a disorder in which the body absorbs the excess amount of iron than it can use from the food we eat. This extra iron gets stored in the liver, heart and other organs, which can also cause Cirrhosis.
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If you are suffering from liver disease, there is no need to panic, with a healthy diet and exercise, functioning of the liver can be improved. But it is important to visit a doctor and seek medical advice before it gets chronic.

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By Poonam

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