The liver is one of the largest organs in the human body and is essential to the proper functioning of the body. The liver synthesizes proteins, bile, acids, and cholesterol. It maintains a balance of many nutrients and chemicals like glucose, fat, cholesterol, vitamins, and hormones and aids in the excretion of many waste products such as bilirubin, cholesterol, poison, and drugs. Liver disease is thus a serious condition that can be cured if it is cared for in the early stages. There are four stages for any malfunction of liver: inflammation, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and cancer.
The liver can get inflamed due to certain conditions, use of alcohol and certain chemicals. The conditions that can cause liver inflammation are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Autoimmune Hepatitis, and Wilson’s disease. Extensive alcohol use also causes inflammation of the liver. Some drugs and industrial pollutants may affect the liver. Inflammation is characterized by redness, swelling, heat and possible pain in the liver.
The second stage of liver disease is fibrosis or scar tissues. After the liver has been inflamed for a long period, connective tissues of the liver accumulate. At this stage the liver functions slowly degrade.
The third stage of liver disease is called cirrhosis. When liver has been damaged due to inflammation and fibrosis, it does not function properly. Accumulation of scar tissues blocks blood flow through the liver, preventing it from functioning normally. Some of the symptoms of end stage cirrhosis are edema, bruising and bleeding, jaundice, gallstones, and an increase of toxins in the blood, enlarged blood vessels, and diabetes.
If liver disease is not treated in the earlier three stages, cancer may develop. Liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma, affects approximately 4% of patients with cirrhosis. A liver transplant is one of the options for treating liver cancer.