The liver is of a football’s size and is an organ inside the human body placed on the abdomen’s right side and under the rib cage. Its role is to digest food and to eliminate the body from toxic substances.
What is liver infection?
There are various factors that might damage the liver like alcohol usage and viruses and it can also be genetic (inherited) or caused due to obesity. Over time, liver is likely to face damage resulting in cirrhosis (scarring), causing liver failure, which can be life threatening. As large parts get damaged, they become irreparable and not in a position to function normally. Such conditions do demand immediate medical care. Often, liver failure takes place gradually and not overnight. But acute liver failure, a rare condition might occur rapidly and tough to be detected initially.
They include the following:
- Urine dark in color
- Itchy skin
- Swelling in ankles and legs
- Abdominal swelling and pain
- Eyes and skin appearing yellowish (jaundice)
- Tar, bloody or pale colored stool
- Vomiting or nausea
- Chronic fatigue
- Tendency to get easily bruised
- Appetite loss
- Immune system abnormality: The liver can be affected, if the person is infected with some disease and certain body parts (autoimmune) is attacked by the immune system. Some examples include:
- Primary schlerosing cholangitis
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Infection: The liver can be infected due to viruses and parasites, thus causing inflammation, which in turn will diminish liver function. Viruses might spread through semen or blood, contaminated water or food or coming in close contact with the infected person and cause liver damage. The common liver infection types are hepatitis viruses A, B & C.
- Cancer & other growths: They include the following:
- Liver adenoma
- Bile duct cancer
- Liver cancer
- Genetics: The person might have inherited abnormal gene from both or any of the parent, thus causing different substances to develop within the liver, causing liver damage. They may include:
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- Wilson’s disease
- Oxalosis & Hyperoxaluria
- Other causes: They may include:
- Accumulation of fat in liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)
- Chronic alcohol abuse
Some factors that might increase risk of contracting liver disease are:
- Body piercing or tattoos
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Sharing needles to inject drugs
- Exposure to body fluids and blood of others
- Blood transfusion taken place prior to 1992
- Exposure to specific toxins and chemicals
- Unprotected sex
There might arise some complications caused by liver disease, which might depend upon the cause of liver problems faced. If left untreated, the disease is likely to progress to the next stage which is liver failure, that can be even life threatening.
How to treat liver failure?
It is possible to treat and reverse the effects of acute liver failure that might have been caused due to over-dosage of acetaminophen. Again, if liver failure is due to a virus infection, then the symptoms can be treated at the hospital with supportive care, until virus runs its natural course. The liver in such cases can be noticed to recover by itself.
The primary treatment objective to cure liver failure resulting from long term deterioration will be to protect the remaining functional parts of this organ. In case, it is found impossible, then there will be needed immediate liver transplant, which is fast becoming a successful procedure.
How to prevent liver failure?
Medical experts suggest limiting risk of contracting hepatitis or cirrhosis. Some tips to prevent such conditions include:
- Get medication for hepatitis C or immunoglobulin shot to avoid hepatitis A/B.
- Limit alcohol consumption and avoid it completely when taking Tylenol (acetaminophen).
- Include all food groups to the daily diet.
- Avoid handling blood or related products.
- Avoid sharing personal toiletry items with others, including razors and toothbrushes.
- Practice good hygiene.
- Practice safe sex.
- Be wary to ensure sanitary and aseptic equipments are used for body piercing or tattoo.
- Avoid sharing needles if using illegal intravenous drugs.
Following the above carefully can help to treat, cure and prevent liver infection and damage.