Liver Failure: Know the Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments, and Prevention

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Liver failure is a deadly disease that requires rapid medical intervention. The majority of liver failure happens gradually over time. This is the stage at which many liver diseases progress. When large sections of the liver are destroyed beyond repair, the liver can no longer function.

Types of liver failure

There are two types of liver failure:

  • Acute: When your liver stops working in a matter of days or weeks. The majority of people who have this have no history of liver disease or issues.
  • Chronic: Damage to your liver accumulates over time, eventually forcing it to shut down.

Causes of liver failure

Many different diseases and health conditions are responsible for liver failure. Read below the different causes of acute and chronic liver failure

Causes for acute liver failure:

  • Overdose of acetaminophen might damage your liver or cause it to fail.
  • Viruses such as hepatitis A, B, and E, as well as Epstein-Barr, CMV, and herpes simplex, can cause liver damage or cirrhosis.
  • Symptoms of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical and natural medications. Some of them are capable of destroying liver cells. Others cause harm to the duct system that transports bile.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis, like viral hepatitis, can result in abrupt liver failure.
  • Wilson’s illness is a hereditary condition that inhibits your body from excreting copper. It accumulates in your liver and harms it.
  • Acute fatty liver of pregnancy is an uncommon disorder, extra fat accumulates on your liver, causing it to malfunction.

Causes of chronic liver failure:

  • Hepatitis B causes your liver to swell and interferes with its normal function.
  • Chronic hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis.
  • Long-term alcohol use can potentially lead to cirrhosis.

Symptoms of liver failure

You should diagnose the symptoms according to the type of liver damage

Acute liver failure can cause the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding
  • Changes in mental state
  • Musty or pleasant mouth odor
  • Problems with movement
  • Appetite suppression
  • Unwellness in general
  • Jaundice

Chronic liver failure, or liver failure that happens over time, shows symptoms as follows:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Decline in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting of blood
  • Blood in the stool

Diagnosis

The experts diagnose liver failure based on your symptoms, the results of tests, and the medical history. Liver functioning test (LFT), also known as hepatic function tests, a liver panel, or liver enzymes, are blood tests that evaluate numerous enzymes and proteins.

The LFT test can be requested as part of a standard annual physical examination. If you have a short-term (acute) sickness, you may require an LFT test as an outpatient or in the hospital.

When you should get a liver functioning test:

A liver functioning test is usually recommended in the following situations:

  • To check for liver damage caused by disorders such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C, especially if a hepatitis virus is detected.
  • To monitor the side effects of certain medications because some are known to have a negative impact on the liver.
  • If you have liver disease or are exhibiting symptoms of liver disease, such as fatty liver disease, or if you have a family history of liver disease.
  • If you often drink alcohol and suffer from gallbladder disease

Types of liver functioning test:

The liver functioning test measures certain enzymes and proteins in your blood. Some examples of common liver functioning test are as follows:

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT) analysis: Protein is metabolized by your body via ALT.
  •  Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) test: They’re commonly checked with ALT to look for indicators of liver disease.
  • ALP tests: These are typically ordered in conjunction with other tests.
  •  Albumin test: Measures how effectively your liver generates this particular protein.
  • Bilirubin test: Bilirubin cannot be processed effectively by a damaged liver. 

Treatment

Treatment options will vary depending on whether the liver failure is acute or chronic.

Treatment for chronic liver failure:

  • Chronic liver failure is treated in part by altering diet and lifestyle.
  • avoiding alcohol and drugs that injure the liver
  • reducing the number of certain foods, like red meat, cheese, and eggs, that are consumed
  • Keeping one’s weight under control and managing metabolic risk factors including diabetes and high blood pressure
  • lowering the salt intake 

Treatments for acute liver failure include the following:

  • maintaining intravenous fluids for blood pressure;
  •  Medicine that flushes out toxins from the body, such as laxatives or enemas;
  • Blood glucose levels are monitored; if levels drop, the patient is given glucose.

Prevention:

You can lower your risks of having liver failure by:

  • Hepatitis B vaccination
  • reducing alcohol consumption
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle
  • Following recommendations when taking drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®).
  • Having a physical exam with a primary care practitioner at least once a year, with screening for obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Conclusion

Liver failure may have an effect on many of your body’s organs. If not addressed, both acute and chronic liver failure can lead to death. Liver functioning test may be performed as part of a standard annual physical in order to cast additional light on acute sickness and aid in the diagnosis of liver disease. The liver functioning test may also be useful if you are using medications that have been linked to liver problems, have had an imaging test that detected an abnormality, or has a risk factor for liver disease.

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