What is a Liver failure?
Essentially, a liver receives the nutrients that people consume and excretes out the unsatisfactory parts. Furthermore, it takes in the nutritional elements of your consumed products, ultimately preventing infections by strengthening your immunity. However, when it comes into contact with some bad chemicals or viruses, that can result in hepatitis liver failure.
To put it simply, this is an extremely toxic condition and completely shatters the fitness of your liver. The most worrying part of this type of organ failure is that it occurs over a long time of damage. Liver failure is the last stage, and there are many causes for it, including pre-existing diseases.
Liver Failure Guide
The liver is one of the most important organs inside of your body and works to excrete out bad elements. But after continuous damage to the liver, the normal functioning stops completely. This results in liver failure, which is highly detrimental to the proper health of the overall human body.
There are many complications that arise from this and there is no specific liver failure cure. Thus, it is important for you to notice and contact your doctor as soon as the symptoms arise. Also, making some changes, and arranging for treatment benefits in regard to patients suffering from liver failure.
However, it is a life-threatening factor, and knowing what it is and how to safeguard against it is crucial. This article tackles the said questions, provides steps of prevention, and other significant information.
1. Symptoms of Liver Failure
Indeed, when it comes to noticing the symptoms of this condition, it is not very easy. Mainly because a lot of the earliest signs of liver failure are similar to that of regular liver diseases. These include features like diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, and a loss in appetite.
After all, liver failure is the last step for other liver diseases and these early signs are visible in most of them. However, with time, more potent symptoms manifest, and they are severe issues like hepatic encephalopathy. Also, other harmful effects are visible like the tendency to bleed easily, sleepiness, jaundice, and a bloated abdomen.
2. Types of Hepatic Failure
To put it simply, you would notice liver failure (hepatic) in two forms- acute and chronic liver failure. The former is a fast-acting condition that has no precursor nor is there any prediction of it. On the other hand, the latter is a slow-built condition that is hard to notice but has taken years to form. For a better understanding, the properties of both types are mentioned below.
1. Acute Liver Failure –
This kind of hepatic failure (liver) is a sudden phenomenon, which is not caught easily due to lack of symptoms. Indeed, the highest number of days for this version of liver failure to act up takes weeks, the lowest being days. Owing to hardcore substance abuse, this can occur and the liver stops working completely with some other organs simultaneously.
2. Chronic Liver Failure –
The liver failure tests cannot diagnose this version of liver failure, because they take time to form. However, if you notice symptoms early, going to the doctor immediately is important. It occurs after other medical conditions come to pass, like cirrhosis.
Extreme use of alcohol over the years results in chronic liver failure, and there are three main types of that. They are as follows-
● Alcoholic cirrhosis- Originating from cirrhosis in the liver, an inflammation of scar tissue forms in the organ. This occurs in patients who have a long history of constant alcohol use, which ruins their liver drastically. Thus, it is arguably the most progressive version of liver failure, appearing in 10-20% heavy drinks in the US alone.
● Alcoholic hepatitis-This liver failure disease is also a result of heavy drinking, affecting almost 35% regular drinkers in the US. This results in inflammation in the organ, accumulation of fat cells, and scarring. The mortality rate in the most severe of these cases is around six months.
● Alcoholic fatty liver disease- Due to a lot of drinking, fat cells start gathering in the liver of the individual. Over time, that results in this type of liver failure if the practice continues. Moreover, the ones who are obese also have a higher risk for this disease.
3. Causes of Acute Liver Failure
There are some prominent causes that fall under the acute liver failure criteria, most prominently Tylenol. To be specific, people who consume large quantities of this drug can overdose on it, causing liver failure. Furthermore, there are some herbal and other medications that help certain areas, but cause adverse effects on the liver.
Other causes include specific viruses that directly target the liver, like cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis E, B, and A, etc. Also, genetic or autoimmune diseases like Wilson’s disease and autoimmune hepatitis respectively can produce acute liver failure symptoms. Plus, consuming certain mushrooms, getting exposure to industrial toxic chemicals or septic shocks too can unknowingly lead to acute liver failure.
4. Causes of Chronic Liver Failure
Likewise, there are many causes of liver failure of the chronic version too, mostly alcohol. Another major reason for this type of liver failure is the condition of cirrhosis, which damages the liver badly. Inherent health matters like hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, lysosomal acid lipase deficiency, and alagille syndrome also result in this.
Moreover, diseases like primary biliary cholangitis, liver adenoma, and primary sclerosing cholangitis are other possible causes. Yet, the health problems that highly lead to chronic liver failure are hepatitis A, C, and B, which cause liver inflammation and then ultimately liver failure.
5. Liver Disease Progression
Indeed, without proper treatment, the signs of death from liver failure are highly likely. After all, it generally is the last stage of any liver disease and no treatment can actively improve its condition. Treatment can work in the earliest stages, and thus, quicker detection is necessary.
In that regard, there are some specific steps of progression that are visible in liver diseases. They are as given below-
1. Inflammation –
At this stage, the liver is comparatively healthy, but there is a bloating in its size and density. On touch, it is soft and tender, however not too dangerous. And since no obvious sign appears during this stage, it stays unobserved.
2. Scarring –
The next stage happens when the liver tries to fix the damages and the healthy tissues start covering the inflammation. Consequently, when this happens over an elongated time, the inflammation turns into scarring. And when the quantity of this increases, these tissues start blocking the blood flow.
3. Cirrhosis –
In this stage, the scar tissues overpower the healthy cells and the effect on the liver is critical. This stage is termed as liver failure cirrhosis. Without any healthy cells or blood flowing into it, the liver malfunctions and that causes huge problems. In this situation, medicines do work to lessen the burden, but it is not enough.
4. Liver Failure-
Lastly, the cirrhosis stage leads to liver failure and it is a worrying situation. At this moment, the rest of the organs stop working as well, due to the blockage in the liver. As a result, other health issues start appearing like lung problems, kidney problems, swollen liver glands, and many more. Ultimately, the only plausible treatment options left at this level are liver failure dialysis and liver transplants.
5. Liver Disease Diagnosis and Tests
In order to understand how to protect your liver, the first step is to diagnose it, and there are some available tests. The most commonly accepted method of surely finding the issues are liver function test, basic blood tests.
Although it is an acceptable and useful system, many people prefer less intrusive methods first. Doing the correct test can speed up the liver failure treatment and doctors want to know the liver condition before considering surgery. These include imaging tests, and the main methods under that are MRI scanning, CT scanning, and ultrasound. Also, blood tests via the prothrombin time test is another way the doctors diagnose the liver health, by noticing the clotting time period.. liver biopsy, This implies that the doctors insert a needle within your body and take a little piece out for analysis if diagnosis is uncertain on above tests.
6. Treatment of Hepatic Failure
To be fair, the condition of hepatic failure is not curable and thus most treatments fail at this stage. The state of the liver is badly ruined, and how the treatment works depends on when it is caught. Therefore, doctors resort to the transplantation of the organ as the ultimate step to save a patient’s life.
Aside from that, supportive care can also work, only if the reason for this organ failure is a virus. In this matter, some rest in the hospital can cure the condition with time. Similarly, an alternate acute liver failure treatment is Acetylcysteine if ingesting acetaminophen led to abrupt liver failure. However, this is an emergent matter, and only a quick application can work effectively. Also, some medicated drugs can reverse the side-effects of a wild mushroom reaction.
7. Complications of Liver Failure
As mentioned earlier, liver failure is an extremely critical health situation, and thus, other complications are inevitable. Accordingly, the ones that you would see most are visible in the other organs of the body. Kidney failure is one of the most harmful ones, as the functioning of both organs is closely related.
Furthermore, if you get into some unforeseen situation that results in bleeding, it would occur continuously. This is because the blood cannot clot quickly anymore, and your blood pressure will also skyrocket. However, the latter is a result of fluid buildup in the brain, called a cerebral hematoma. This, too, is a complication because of liver failure. Plus, the metabolic effects of liver failure results in your immune system suffering indirectly. In other words, the liver cannot stop infections anymore, and thus, UTIs and pneumonia are likely.
8. Prevention of Hepatic Failure
While a cure is not the most dependable solution for liver failure, prevention can help you tremendously. In order to do that, cut down on your daily intake of alcohol, especially when you are having acetaminophen. You should get the medications for hepatitis on time and practice safe sex too. Also, make sure to follow a proper liver failure diet, full of healthy items from all the food groups.
Exercise regularly to burn the fat in your body, as obesity can generate liver failure eventually. Not to mention, you should maintain good hygiene and avoid sharing your belongings like toothbrushes with other people. Following your doctor’s recommendations is very important in the matter of preventing hepatic liver failure.
A liver transplant is an operation that involves the replacement of a patient's diseased liver with either a whole or partial healthy liver from a donor.
Dr. Bipin Vibhute
Liver & Multiorgan Transplant Surgeon
Dr. Aniruddha Bhosale
Consultant Liver & GI surgery
Dr. Apurv Deshpande
Liver and Multi Organ Transplant
Dr. Abhijit Mane
Asst Consultant Liver & Multiorgan Transplant
Dr. Manoj Raut
Consultant Liver Transplantation Anaesthesia & Critical Care
M/S. Malvika Karkare
Sr. Transplant Dietition
Dr. Bipin Vibhute
Liver & Multiorgan Transplant Surgeon
A liver transplant is an operation that replaces a patient’s diseased liver with a whole or partial healthy operation that replaces.
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