Maybe you've heard million times that drinking too much of alcohol can damage your liver. That's right, alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of hepatic failure among Americans. However, it's still possible to experience liver dysfunction, even if you don't consume alcohol at all.
Your liver is a large organ, located in the upper right abdomen. It helps you eliminate toxins, alcohol, drugs from the body and digest nutrients (particularly fats) through bile production. This organ is also responsible for synthesis of blood clotting elements and amino acids.
Actually liver has ability to regenerate destroyed cells and compensate their dysfunction for a long time. Nevertheless, constant long-term damage eventually leads to formation of the scar tissue. If most of hepatocytes get substituted by fibrous tissue, your liver can't function properly. This condition is medically called cirrhosis.
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People with hepatic failure often complain of extreme fatigue, easy bruising, itching, jaundice and loss of appetite. In advanced cases disease becomes apparent in ascites (abdominal swelling), confusion, edema and bloody vomiting.
Besides alcohol, there is a wide variety of factors, which can affect your liver. Viral infection can be a culprit of liver inflammation and loss of function. You've probably heard about hepatitis A, B, C, D. Although worldwide hepatitis B ranks first among the causes of cirrhosis, in the US hepatitis C is recognized as a leader of total liver dysfunction.
Sometimes liver cells can be damaged without any underlying reason. Autoimmune hepatitis occurs, when your immune system begins to attack your own hepatocytes by mistake. The American Liver Foundation reports that 70 percent of autoimmune hepatitis sufferers are women.
Your liver normally produces bile and carry it to the gallbladder and intestine through special ducts. Sometimes these tubes can be blocked, causing bile congestion. As a result, liver tissue gets inflamed and cells become destroyed. This trouble usually affects women in their 35-60 years old.
Just imagine that fat can be accumulated not only on your hips and sides, but also inside your liver. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis commonly develop in those, who suffer from obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure. Fatty buildup consequently cause inflammation and cells' injury, leading to cirrhosis.
It was found that fatty liver disease frequently affects women after menopause. The reason is that lack of estrogen is associated with weight gain and accumulation of visceral fat. In rare cases cirrhosis may be caused by inherited diseases like cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease.
Remember that long-term consumption of certain drugs, like acetaminophen, can damage hepatocytes and lead to cirrhosis development.
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