Liver Damage

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The liver is a large, reddish-brown organ situated on the right side of the body, above the stomach and below the diaphragm. At a weight of approximately 1.3 kg in females and 1.8 kg in males, the liver is the largest solid organ in the body. Responsible for close to 500 different functions, the liver holds close to 13% of the body’s entire blood supply.

Cells called hepatocytes are located in the liver and their job is to absorb nutrients and detoxify the blood by eliminating harmful substances. You can see that the liver is clearly a vital organ for digestion and removal of toxins.

A number of factors can cause liver disease. Certain types of liver disease may have genetic links, while others are caused by outside sources such as a viral infection, obesity, or alcohol use.


A red flag that problems may be occurring in the liver include pain and discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen (where the liver). Pain is often associated with the liver growing in size as the result of an accumulation of fat, an acute inflammation or an injury that might expand and stretch the membrane surrounding the liver.


An abnormal, diseased, liver often disrupts the flow of blood in the liver or causes tumors (benign or malignant) to develop, adding mass of the liver. There are several causes of hepatomegaly, including metastatic cancer, hepatitis, fatty liver disease and cirrhosis.


Symptoms of jaundice include an excessive yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes and nails. This condition is happens because the damaged liver is unable to adequately process bilirubin, the substance found in bile that eliminates waste. When an excess of bilirubin accumulates in the blood, it is deposited in the skin, causing yellowish discoloration.


Cirrhosis is a condition where the liver does not function properly because it has been damaged over a period of time. Scar tissue often forms in place of liver cells that have died; as a result of this, the liver is damaged over time. This damage is often the result of excessive alcohol consumption, hepatitis B or C and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

In the early stages of cirrhosis, there are often no symptoms or very non-specific and mild ones. As such, patients often overlook symptoms and attribute them to other conditions.

Irregular tumours or nodules cause liver fibrosis to form over what was once healthy liver tissue. The scar tissue created leads to hardening of the liver tissue which then prevents blood flow to the liver and the healthy function of the organ.

As cirrhosis develops gradually over time, it can go undetected until the damage to the liver is quite severe and liver failure is likely.

Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver include:


An unpleasant condition the skin causing the desire to scratch is often caused by a component of the bile accumulating in the blood, as part of jaundice. Although itching, or pruritis, is a common symptom of cirrhosis, it is not always present. When this does occur, it can often be severe and even debilitating.


When the liver is damaged, it is often unable to produce the proteins needed for normal blood clotting, which can cause an increased tendency to bruise or bleed.


When a liver is damaged, it may not be able to regulate the production and breakdown of hormones in the body. With men, this imbalance of hormone levels can lead to enlarged breasts and shrunken testicles; in women the menstrual cycle is often affected.


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