For any physician, a patient suffering from liver malfunction is a great challenge to treat. Since liver is considered as the most important organ of the body, any damage or malfunction of liver can significantly affect the health of a person.
Liver is involved in various critical functions that takes place in the body, to name a few such as; secretion of bile which helps in processing fat and fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K.
Liver destroys bacteria, especially gram positive cocci, which gain entrance in the body through the liver blood vessels. It detoxifies the drugs and hormones, alcohol and chemicals. Liver regulates blood clotting mechanism in the body and maintains the blood volume in the body.
Unlike other organs, liver possesses a remarkable ability to replace its lost tissue rapidly and completely by compensatory mechanism. However, in severe cases the cellular damage may be irreversible and life threatening.
What Are The Causes Of Liver Malfunction?
Liver malfunction can be acute or chronic.
Acute liver malfunction can result from toxicity of drugs such as overdose of acetaminophen and various other drugs. Fulminate viral hepatitis B can be a reason for acute malfunction of liver in some cases. Ingestion of poisons and some types of mushrooms can also lead to liver malfunction. The damage caused to liver cell may be reversible or irreversible.
Fatty liver disease, Reye’s syndrome, infectious viral fevers, sickle cell disease, polycythemia are some other causes for liver malfunction.
Signs And Symptoms Of Liver Disease
The most marked features of liver malfunctioning are weakness and general failure in health. The other important symptoms that may indicate your liver is not functioning well include loss of appetite, pain in upper abdomen especially in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, nausea and vomiting.
Jaundice sets in after few days and your eyes, skin and nails turn yellow. There is immense fatigue and tired feeling in a patient. Itching all over the body is another important symptom present in many patients when the level of bilirubin becomes very high.
The hyper dynamic circulation is manifested by flushed extremities and bounding pulse. Appearance of spider angiomas is suggestive of progressive liver malfunction. It’s disappearing is indicative of improving hepatic (liver) function. Spider naevi are located around the neck, face, shoulders and upper arms.
In case of liver malfunction due to cirrhosis of liver, the early stage may be quiet and long. In some cases there may be repeated attacks of jaundice, pain in abdomen and vomiting. The spider naevi appear on the face, neck, abdomen, and shoulders.
Palmer erythema- the hands are warm and palms are bright red. There is water retention in the abdomen cavity (ascites), this occurs due to decrease protein production as a result of liver malfunctioning. Easy bruising, bleeding from nose etc occurs due to decreased production of clotting factor.
Diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of liver malfunction are usually done with the help of series of medical tests that include blood tests, ultrasonography, CT scan, and biopsy.