Liver (Anatomy and Function) (cont.)

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Abnormalities of bile flow from the liver

Abnormalities of bile flow from the liver may lead to liver inflammation, for example:

  • Gallstones (the most common disease)
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Decrease in blood flow draining from the liver

Decrease in blood flow draining out of the liver may cause the liver to become congested and inflamed, two examples include:

  • Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart is not strong enough to pump all of the blood it receives, and that blood can back up into the liver.
  • Budd Chiari syndrome is a disease in which blood clots form in the hepatic veins, preventing blood from leaving the liver.

What are symptoms of diseases of the liver?

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The liver is a large organ and a significant amount of liver tissue requires to be damaged before a person experiences symptoms of disease. Symptoms also may depend upon the type of liver disease.

  • The inflammation of hepatitis may be associated with pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, nausea and vomiting. This may also be seen in people with gallstones.
  • People who have jaundice (have a yellow-orange hue to their skin) because the liver cannot metabolize bilirubin (the normal breakdown product of old red blood cells).
  • There may be a tendency to bleed excessively or bruise easily because the liver is unable to manufacture blood clotting factors in adequate amounts.
  • Fatigue, weakness, weight loss, and shortness of breath because of muscle wasting; due to the inability of the liver to manufacture proteins.
  • Because the liver is involved in the metabolism of sex hormones, gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue in men) and impotence may occur.
  • In end-stage liver disease, ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity), and leg swelling may occur because of inadequate production of albumin by the liver.
  • There also may be difficulty in metabolizing ammonia causing its levels in the blood to rise, resulting in confusion due to encephalopathy (encephala=brain + pathy=dysfunction).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/16/2014

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Liver - Type of Disease and Treatments Question: Please share the type of liver disease you have, and any treatments or lifestyle changes you have made that have been effective for liver disease.
Liver - Symptoms of Disease Question: What symptoms did you experience with liver disease?
Liver - Biopsy Question: Please share your experience with liver biopsy.
Liver - Infection Question: What type of infection affected your liver? Please share your symptoms and treatments.
Liver - Medications Question: What medications caused inflammation of the liver? What was the treatment?
Liver - Hepatitis Question: What type of hepatitis do you have? What were your symptoms? Do you know how you contracted it and what treatments have you undergone?