Liver Failure

Liver failure alcohol

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of liver failure 

The liver is one of the most vital organs of the body responsible for numerous physiological functions such as hormonal balance, purification of blood, glycogen storage, cholesterol metabolism, protein synthesis and a lot more. Abnormalities in liver functions may give rise to numerous liver diseases, which may slowly progress to “liver failure”. In the recent years, liver failure has been a very common occurrence in countries lacking hygienic conditions necessary for maintaining a healthy life. According to recent statistics produced by the American Liver Foundation, nearly 6 million children all over the world suffer from liver dysfunctions, which when left undiagnosed lead to liver failure. Also, nearly 60% new-borns all over the world are diagnosed with jaundice (a type of liver disease) each year. Thus liver failure has increased infant mortality rates and reduced life expectancy in general.

What is a liver failure?

Liver failureLiver failure is defined as the partial or complete failure of the liver to perform its functions (both metabolic and synthetic) due to various physiological and environmental factors.

Existing diseases of the liver are strong indicators of liver failure at some point of time if left untreated. Extreme cases of liver dysfunctions lead to hepatic cancer in many cases that may eventually lead to liver failure.

Adequate vaccinations are necessary in childhood in order to prevent liver diseases (and consequently liver failure) in an individual.

What causes liver failure?

Liver failure may be an outcome of several physiological, environmental and genetic factors. The commonly studied etiological factors behind liver failure are described below-

  • Virus: Infections due to Hepatitis A (via contaminated food and fluids), Hepatitis B (due to immune reaction), Hepatitis C (via contact with infected blood) and Hepatitis E can cause liver failure in the advanced stage. Nearly 50% of cases of this category have been reported in developing countries.
  • Bacteria: Bacterial infections of the liver may lead to granuloma, abscess, and inflammation, causing liver failure.
  • Liver failure alcoholMedications: A few over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen may induce toxicity within the liver, leading to liver failure.
  • Age: Degeneration of liver cells occurs with age, leading to an abnormal increase in the levels of aminotransferase and bilirubin, which may gradually lead to liver failure.
  • Liver injuries: Ischemic hepatocellular injuries or acute damage to liver parenchyma cells can lead to liver failure.
  • Fatty liver disease: Excess fat deposition in the liver is common in overweight, Diabetic, alcoholic and high cholesterol patients, and may progress to liver failure in future.
  • Gene: Certain genetic liver diseases such as Hemochromatosis (excess iron build up in liver), Wilson’s disease (accumulation of iron and copper in the liver), Amyloidosis (protein deposition) can predispose the body to liver failure at some point of time.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Certain auto-immune diseases like Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (inflammation of bile ducts), Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (excess bile accumulation in the liver), autoimmune hepatitis and few more can cause liver failure and damage to other vital organs.
  • Celiac disease: Patients suffering from celiac disease have reduced absorption of nutrients from regular diet (due to damage of intestinal linings). This may affect the liver and cause liver failure.
  • Liver cancer: Hepatocellular carcinoma can cause severe damage to the liver cells and may cause liver failure.
  • Cardiovascular disorders: Failure of the right auricular chamber may directly impact the venous return which in turn can affect liver functionalities, causing liver failure in due course of time.
  • Cholestasis: In this condition, an excess buildup of waste products (which are supposed to be eliminated through bile) in the liver occurs mainly due to obstruction of bile ducts, leading to loss of liver functions and liver failure.
  • Coagulation deficiency: Reduced production of certain coagulation factors such as prothrombin and fibrinogen can lead to internal bleeding and liver failure.
  • Substance abuse: Excess alcohol or tobacco consumption may affect the liver health severely, leading to liver failure.

What are the main signs and symptoms?

Liver failure is normally manifested through the following symptoms-

  • Yellowish discoloration of skin, sclera, conjunctiva, and mucosa (due to abnormalities in bile composition)
  • Yellowish, dark brown or amber colored urine with a strong pungent smell
  • Tarred or dark brownish stools
  • Skin irritation
  • Persistent pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen (due to liver enlargement)
  • A headache, fever, and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A feeling of a lump below the rib (due to spleen enlargement)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Abdominal distension
  • Unexplained bruising and bleeding
  • Veins in the abdominal region become prominent

What are the different types of liver failure?

Liver failure can be of two main types, viz –

  • Acute failure: Acute liver failure is the medical condition in which abnormally reduced production of coagulation factors leads to coagulopathy, leading to scarring and internal bleeding within the liver. This condition is accompanied by encephalopathy (dysfunctions of the brain). Acute liver failure is usually short-lived and is curable in many cases.
  • Chronic failure: Chronic liver failure encompasses a group of conditions such as inflammation of the liver, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. It may persist for a period of 6 months or more.

What are the associated complications?

Liver failure painLiver failure not only impacts liver functions but also affects the other vital organs of the body.

The main complications of liver failure are described below-

  • Cardiorespiratory dysfunctions
  • Neurological disorders (Hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Renal dysfunctions
  • Splenomegaly (spleen enlargement)
  • Metabolic bone diseases (Osteopenia)

What are the important diagnostic tests?

The following tests must be carried out for an accurate diagnosis of liver failure-

  • Liver Biopsy (to check for cancerous cells)
  • Abdominal Ultrasonography
  • Blood tests (bilirubin, creatinine and International Normalized Ratio)
  • GGT test to check for liver enzyme levels
  • CT scan and MRI
  • Elastography (to measure liver stiffness)

Treatment

Fatty liver –

  • The first method of treating a fatty liver is via exercise along with a healthy diet.
  • Cutting down on alcohol is another method of treating fatty liver.
  • Doctors will recommend the patients to get a vaccination for hepatitis A and B, to help protect them from the viruses that could cause any further liver failure.

Liver cancer –

  • Surgery – In this treatment method, surgery is performed to remove the tumor from a part of the liver or replace the liver completely.
  • Localization therapy – Here, the cancer cells are heated or frozen, alcohol or chemotherapy drugs are injected into the tumor to treat the cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy – High beam energy rays are used to treat the cancer cells.
  • Targeted drug therapy – The weak parts of the cancer cells are targeted to help treat this condition.
  • Palliative care – This treatment method is provided to those who have been diagnosed with cancer, to help reduce the signs and symptoms of cancer along with the side effects of the treatment.

Cirrhosis –

  • Treating alcohol dependency – Those who have been diagnosed with cirrhosis due to alcoholism, need to stop drinking alcohol. This is important as any consumption of alcohol by these patients is now considered toxic for the body.
  • Weight loss – If cirrhosis caused due to obesity, the patient will be put on a weight loss programme along with a healthy diet to aid the weight loss process.
  • Medication to control hepatitis – Medications to prevent any further liver damage will be provided to patients. If cirrhosis is caused due to hepatitis B and C.
  • Medication to control other causes and symptoms of cirrhosis – Certain medications can help slow down the process of cirrhosis.
  • Liver transplant – This treatment plan is considered a contingency plan for those who have been diagnosed with cirrhosis. This treatment method is mostly adopted for those whose liver has stopped functioning.

Substance abuse –

  • Detoxification is a treatment method that is followed to help rid the patients of all the drugs that they have consumed. This treatment method has withdrawal symptoms. Since the withdrawal symptoms are very high, the patients are kept as in-patients in the hospital to monitor their treatment. Patients who are undergoing the detox treatment are generally sedated to help reduce the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Therapy – Individual or group therapy is followed by the detox treatment method. This is done to help the patients adjust to their lifestyle without the need for any drugs.
  • Behavioral therapy – Patients who undergo rehabilitation for substance abuse or alcoholism tend to have a behavioral counseling session to help them understand to how to behave in the society without the use of heavy drugs.

Prevention

Fatty liver –

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle of fruits and vegetables and consume minimal amounts of processed food. Doing so helps the liver function easily, thereby reducing the chances of developing a fatty liver.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, as being overweight tens to make the body resist insulin.
  • Exercise regularly, this helps in reducing the fat levels in the body and reduce the chances of developing fatty liver.

Liver cancer –

  • Maintain a healthy weight, this helps in reducing fat levels in the body, thereby reducing the chances of liver damage.
  • Certain fruits and vegetables such as broccoli and brussels sprouts help in increasing the liver’s natural detoxifying enzymes to help improve damage if any.
  • To help reduce the level of damage on the liver, it is important to consume alcohol in moderate amounts.

Cirrhosis –

    • Reduce the risk of hepatitis, by getting the vaccinations needed.
    • Do not consume alcohol, as it tends to scar the liver leading to cirrhosis.
    • Maintain a healthy weight, as excess amounts of fat can damage the liver.

Liver Failure Home Remedies

In case of severe liver conditions such as liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, the damage to the liver is irreversible. Such damage can only be corrected by liver transplant. However, if the symptoms of liver disease or dysfunction are detected early on, in that case certain lifestyle and dietary changes can help improve the condition. There are a few home remedies that can aid the healing process of the liver.

The most important habit that needs to be followed is drinking plenty of water so that the toxins from the liver and the entire body are flushed out in a routine manner. And equally important is consuming a diet that is low in sodium, cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats. Oily and greasy foods can spell danger for an ailing liver.

One should try to eat freshly cooked home-cooked foods and say no to processed foods. The fiber content of the food should be high and it should contain more of whole grains and green leafy vegetables. The protein content should be brought down.  Plant-based fats should be opted over animal-based fats. Milk thistle extract has proven healing effects on the liver.  Same goes for high potassium foods such as bananas.


TL;DR?

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Consume a lot of dark green leafy vegetables. These tend to provide the vitamins and nutrients necessary for the body.
  • Maintain your body weight, to ensure that there are no further medical illnesses.
  • Consume black coffee, without sugar; it helps in reducing the cholesterol levels in the body.
Don'ts
  • Consume alcohol, as it is not good for your liver and lead to many diseases and complications.
  • Follow any extreme diet plan, doing so would result in the decline of certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients that may be required by the body.
  • Consume fatty, processed, refined or oily foods, they tend to increase the cholesterol level in your blood and result in a fatty liver.

 

 

 

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Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
Hysteroscopy_procedure
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive tool to help specialists view the uterus to diagnose and even treat several…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Hymenoplasty
Hymenoplasty Read on to find out all about hymenoplasty, the procedure, post-surgery care, the risks, and the benefits.
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
free testosterone test
Free testosterone Free Testosterone Test measures and monitors the level of the free testosterone in the blood. Less than 4%…
Propolis: Yet another amazing gift by the bees to the humans Bee propolis is yet another generous gift by the bees bestowed on the human race. They utilize substances…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
liver biopsy procedure
Liver Biopsy Liver biopsy or hepatic biopsy is a diagnostic tool that collects a sample of live tissue from the…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
free psa test
Free PSA Test The free PSA test is used to detect the level or percentage of free PSA in the body…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
Miracle extract from the root of maca: 10 ways it can help you! Maca root has been used for years in herbal medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing fresh evidence in…
lipase test
Lipase Test A lipase test is a blood test performed to quantitatively measure the level of the enzyme lipase in…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
Lauric Acid: 8 health benefits you can derive from coconuts Appropriate use of saturated fats containing lauric acid can provide you numerous health benefits. This is the main…
kshar sutra
Kshar sutra treatment for piles, fissures and fistula Read to know the benefits and side effects of kshar sutra to treat anal piles, fissures, and fistula…
superfoods quinoa probiotics
10 fantastic Superfoods you need to include in your diet from today! What exactly are superfoods and how do they battle diseases? From losing weight to looking ravishing- these superfoods…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
Pelvic_ultrasound
Pelvic Ultrasound Pelvic ultrasound is a process where sound waves are used to create image of your pelvic region organs…

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