Reviews, Information and Links
Liver Enzymes and Other Hepatology News
© 2011 -
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It is responsible for several elements of life, including filtering toxins out of our blood, controlling the production of glucose and fats, and producing the protein that is regulates blood clotting. The way that the liver manages to do so much is that the blood flows into it directly from veins leading from the intestines, where nutrients have been broken down. This blood is then processed through the liver through a series of small veins, and then pumped out to the heart.
When the liver sustains damage, whatever the cause, scar tissue forms, just as in
every other area of the body. But scar tissue in the liver actively prevents the
blood from flowing through the liver in the way that it was designed. This interference
with the liver's basic function can lead to serious medical conditions, and is called
Cirrhosis of the liver can be caused by any number of diseases or conditions that affect the liver, and it can often take a long time to detect. The symptoms of cirrhosis and signs of liver damage tend not to manifest until it has reached the nearly critical point when blood is not flowing freely through the liver and it is unable to perform its functions as it normally would. This is a shame, because caught in its early stages, the damage done to the liver by a condition such as fatty liver disease could be minimized, or even reversed.
Whether the damage to the liver has been caused by drinking too much alcohol, fatty liver disease, hepatitis or any of a number of other causes, the symptoms of cirrhosis are the same. Continued below....
The most common and recognizable symptom is jaundice, a condition in which the skin takes on a yellow cast, as do the eyes. Although many of the symptoms of cirrhosis can be attributed to other illnesses, jaundice is the one symptom that is almost exclusive to damage of the liver.
Other symptoms include fatigue, nausea, swelling of the abdomen, weakness and itching.
Each of these is an indication that the blood is not being filtered as it should.
As the disease state progresses, other more serious symptoms can arise, including
swelling of the feet and legs, internal bleeding and even peritoneal infection.
The symptoms of cirrhosis are roughly the same in men and women. Once the illness has been identified, if nothing can be done to help the liver damage much more serious symptoms can arise, including a related problem with the kidneys called hepatorenal syndrome, in which kidney function is severely affected. This is not a structural change -
Similar problems can occur in the lungs and the spleen. Finally, the presence of cirrhosis in the liver greatly increases the chances of the presentation of liver cancer, either primary (meaning originating in the liver), or secondary, which starts elsewhere but metastasizes to the liver.
The symptoms of this condition include a swollen abdomen, loss of appetite, and the presence of unusual substances in the blood stream. The longer that cirrhosis is left untreated, the more devastating its effects can be. It is important to be tested as early as possible, so if any of the early symptoms arise, see your doctor as soon as possible, and make sure that appropriate diagnostic tests are ordered.