What is Liver Failure?

The liver has many important functions and when something goes wrong with this organ then it can be potentially fatal. Liver failure is a life threatening condition and needs to be taken care of as soon as symptoms have started and a diagnosis made. Of course preventing failure of the liver is also important and there are many easy things to do that can help you avoid future difficulties.

Liver failure is basically a condition in which much of the organ has been damaged and it is no longer possible to repair it. Once this happens, the liver is no longer able to function. Noticing and correctly identifying the symptoms of liver failure is not always easy, because they can come gradually or acutely and are often mistaken for other diseases. Some of the first symptoms of a failing liver include fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and loss of appetite. These often are not diagnosed, but as the liver further degrades the symptoms also become more severe. You will them experience jaundice, sleepiness, bleeding and mental disorientation. Besides that you may also fall into a coma or have a swollen abdomen.

Once diagnosed, liver failure can be treated in most cases and the cases where the damage is too extensive, then a liver transplant is necessary. If a virus is the reason for the condition then the liver often recovers without medical help or medication can help. In the early stages of liver failure due to an overdose of acetaminophen not only is the condition treatable, but even the effects of the deterioration can be reversed. If the failure is already too progressed then only the parts of the organ that are still undamaged will be treated in order to save them.

There are many possible causes of liver failure, but also many things that can be done to prevent it. The most common causes of chronic liver deterioration include Hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis, malnutrition and long term alcohol abuse. In acute cases of rapid failure a virus is often the culprit, but also poisonous mushrooms, a reaction to medication or a Tylenol overdose. Prevention is best done by not consuming too much alcohol for a long period of time, proper hygiene, eating balanced meals and keeping up to date on hepatitis vaccines.