Posted on June 24, 2022 · Posted in Blog, General, Memo Plus Gold, Personal

Liver disease is any disturbance of liver function that causes illness. The liver is responsible for many critical functions within the body and should it become diseased or injured, the loss of those functions can cause significant damage to the body. Liver disease is also referred to as hepatic disease.

Liver disease is a broad term that covers all the potential problems that cause the liver to fail to perform its designated functions. Usually, more than 75% or three-quarters of liver tissue needs to be affected before a decrease in function occurs.

The liver is the largest solid organ in the body and is also considered a gland because, among its many functions, it makes and secretes bile. The liver is located in the upper right portion of the abdomen protected by the rib cage. It has two main lobes that are made up of tiny lobules. The liver cells have two different sources of blood supply. The hepatic artery supplies oxygen-rich blood that is pumped from the heart while the portal vein supplies nutrients from the intestine and the spleen.

Normally, veins return blood from the body to the heart but the portal vein allows nutrients and chemicals from the digestive tract to enter the liver for processing and filtering prior to entering the general circulation. The portal vein also efficiently delivers the chemicals and proteins that liver cells need to produce the proteins, cholesterol and glycogen required for normal body activities.

Liver Disease Symptoms and Signs.

Signs and symptoms associated with the liver disease vary and are dependent upon the exact type of liver disease that is present. Examples of signs and symptoms of liver disease include:-

  • jaundice.
  • abdominal pain and swelling.
  • itchy skin.
  • dark urine colour.
  • nausea.
  • vomiting.
  • chronic fatigue.
  • pale stool colour.
  • bloody stool.
  • tar-coloured stool.
  • swelling in the ankles and legs.
  • loss of appetite.
  • easy bruising.

Symptoms of liver disease.

Since there are a variety of liver diseases, the symptoms tend to be specific for that illness until late-stage liver disease and liver failure occurs. Examples of liver disease symptoms due to certain conditions or diseases include:

  • Gallstones. A person with gallstones may experience right upper abdominal pain and vomiting after eating a greasy (fatty) meal. If the gallbladder becomes infected, fever may occur.
  • Gilbert’s disease has no symptoms and is an incidental finding on a blood test where the bilirubin level is mildly elevated.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver will develop progressive symptoms as the liver fails. Some symptoms are directly related to the inability of the liver to metabolise the body’s waste products. Others reflect the failure of the liver to manufacture proteins required for body function and may affect blood clotting function, secondary sex characteristics and brain function.

Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver include the following:-

  • easy bruising may occur due to decreased production of clotting factors.
  • bile salts can deposit in the skin causing itching.
  • gynecomastia or enlarged breasts in men may occur because of an imbalance in sex hormones.
  • specifically, an increase in impotence and erectile dysfunction.
  • poor sex drive and shrinking testicles are due to a decrease in the function of sex hormones.
  • confusion and lethargy may occur if ammonia levels rise in the bloodstream (ammonia is a waste product formed from protein metabolism and requires normal liver cells to remove it).
  • ascites (fluid accumulation within the abdominal cavity) occurs because of decreased protein production.
  • muscle wasting may occur because of reduced protein production.

Additionally, there is increased pressure within the cirrhotic liver affecting blood flow through the liver. Increased pressure in the portal vein causes blood flow to the liver to slow down and blood vessels to swell. Swollen veins form around the stomach and esophagus and are at risk for bleeding.

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