Liver Disease

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

What are the causes of liver disease (alcohol and cirrhosis)?

The liver can be damaged in a variety of ways.

  • Cells can become inflamed, for example, hepatitis.
  • Bile flow can be obstructed, for example, cholestasis).
  • Cholesterol ortriglycerides can accumulate, for example, steatosis).
  • Blood flow to the liver may be compromised.
  • Liver tissue can be damaged by chemicals and minerals, or infiltrated by abnormal cells, like cancer cells.

Alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of liver disease in North America. Alcohol is directly toxic to liver cells and can cause liver inflammation, referred to as alcoholic hepatitis. In chronic alcohol abuse, fat accumulation occurs in liver cells affecting their ability to function.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a late-stage of liver disease. Scarring of the liver and loss of functioning liver cells cause the liver to fail. Significant amounts of liver cells need to be damaged before the hole organ fails to function.

Reviewed on 10/27/2016
References
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCES:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Liver."

IMAGES:

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7.Ed Uthman, MD

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