The liver is one of the largest organs in the body that performs a number of functions. It helps in removing toxins from the blood, regulates blood clotting, and maintains blood sugar levels and performs more than 500 functions. One of the vital functions of the liver is it produces bile that helps in digestion of food that is consumed by the body and removes toxins in the consumed foods or drugs.
Causes of liver failure:
The causes of liver disease may either chronic or acute. Chronic liver disease develops gradually over time, and acute occurs rapidly.
Acute liver failure:
Acute liver failure is linked with various factors, even though the exact cause may unknown. Some possible causes and risk factors are:
- Viral infections include Hepatitis A, B, E
- Overdose of Tylenol (acetaminophen)
- Metabolic conditions
- Certain medications
- Metabolic conditions
- Herbal supplements
- Autoimmune disorders
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
Chronic liver failure:
Chronic liver failure may even result in cirrhosis, which is inflammation in the liver cells. It prevents the liver from functioning properly, as a huge scar tissue is formed. Some possible causes include:
- Chronic infection of Hepatitis B or C
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver
- Immune disorders
Types of liver disease:
The progression of liver disease has different stages and is consistent, irrespective of the cause. There are many hospitals in Turkey that offer treatment for liver cirrhosis and have a high success rate. There are more than 50 centers for liver transplant in India, with a team of world-renowned liver disease specialists.
Inflammation is a key factor involved in healing or immune response to injury. The liver helps to filter the toxic waste that enters the body. The inflammation occurs in the liver if the body reacts to the toxic imbalance due to the inability of the liver to re-route or remove the toxins. It results in swelling in the liver. The collagen may deposit continuously as the incessant inflammation sends lasting signals to the repair cells. The extra collagen stiffens the tissue of the liver. Inflammation is a sign of viral hepatitis, overindulging in alcohol or fatty foods, or even the own immune system can trigger a continual inflammatory. It is pertinent to book an appointment with the doctor immediately at this stage to potentially reverse the damage.
If the inflammation is left untreated, then it results in the formation of scarring or fibroids. The continued inflammation makes more collagen deposit leads to more stiffening, results in the development of fibrosis. The scar tissue can limit or block the blood supply within the liver, which kills the healthy liver tissue and forms more scar tissue. The formation of more scar tissues makes the liver function less efficient. Fibrosis limits the ability of the liver to repair itself and also prevent blood flow. Over time, the scar grows and covers most of the healthy liver cells, creating septa or bands of scar tissue. Complete recovery is also possible at this stage with proper medication and lifestyle changes.
As fibrosis advances, then liver disease reaches the third stage called Cirrhosis. This is the stage where the liver is permanently damaged and critically scared. Many forms of liver diseases that cause cirrhosis are related to alcohol-induced liver disease. It is hard to treat, and in many cases there is no treatment to cure cirrhosis. It is possible to keep cirrhosis from getting worse by treating the underlying cause. The liver scarring may slowly improve with successful treatment and by avoiding things that damage the liver such as alcohol, fat-containing foods, and certain medication. Without treatment, it has a higher risk of developing into Liver failure.
End-stage liver disease (ESLD) or Liver failure:
This is the final stage of liver disease and can take years, even decades, for the liver to reach this stage. It leads to making the liver stop functioning completely and unable to heal itself. The abnormal liver functions that develop variceal hemorrhage, ascites, hepatic encephalopathy or renal impairment are considered to have end-stage liver disease (ESLD). Two types of liver failure, acute liver failure happens quickly and caused by factors other than alcohol. Chronic liver failure is caused by alcohol poisoning the liver. A liver transplant is the only way to save lives with chronic liver failure.
The abnormal growth of cells in the liver can lead to formation of mass, called tumor. Liver cancer that develops in the cells of the liver is called primary liver cancer. Some physicians suggest that there are only 4 stages of liver disease and liver cancer may not include in the liver disease stages. Liver cancer may hit at any of the above 4 stages of liver disease. Also, cancer in any other parts of the body can spread to the liver, and it is called secondary liver cancer. Liver cancer is not necessarily the last stage of liver disease. As liver failure, liver transplantation is an option for these patients.