Liver – A Chemical Factory

Functions of the Liver

The liver is an important solid organ in the body with numerous functions:

Secretes bile which helps in digestion of fat
Filtering the blood coming from the digestive tract
Stores glycogen to be utilized as glucose as and when required
Detoxifies and metabolizes drugs
Makes proteins which are required for various purposes like blood clotting
Signs and Symptoms of liver diseases include:

abdominal pain
weight loss
weakness
general fatigue
dark coloured urine
itching
jaundice (yellow colouration of the skin and eyes)
nausea and vomiting
small red, spider-like blood vessels under the skin or easy bruising
swelling in the abdomen and legs caused by fluid accumulation.
Causes

Diseases of the liver can be:

1. Infections

Parasites and viruses can affect the liver, causing inflammation and liver dysfunction. The viruses responsible for liver damage spread through blood or body fluids like semen, contaminated food or water, or close contact with an individual who is infected. The most commonly recognized types of liver infections are:

Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C
2. Immune system abnormality

Liver can be affected by immune system dysfunction as in Autoimmune Hepatitis.

3. Genetics

An abnormal gene inherited from your mother or father can cause various conditions which can harm the liver over a period of time. They are as follows:

Hemochromatosis
Hyperoxaluria and oxalosis
Wilson’s disease
4. Cancer and growths

Examples include:

Liver cancer
Bile duct cancer
Liver adenoma
Secondaries
Treatment and Prevention of Liver Disorders

Doctors diagnose hepatitis with a detailed history and investigations. They will inquire about:

Use of intravenous drugs
History of alcohol intake
Visit to places where hepatitis is prevailing
History of blood transfusion or contact with fresh blood
Medication and treatment in the past few days or months
Unhygienic meals
Addiction to drugs
1. Cirrhosis is diagnosed on the basis of history, clinical findings and investigations. A liver biopsy or surgery related to liver may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

2. There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis. Bed rest isn’t always necessary, although one feels better if physical activity is limited. It is good to maintain an adequate intake of calories. Your doctor may recommend small, frequent high-calorie meal, with plenty of fluids. Alcohol or any unhealthy drink should be avoided. Medical Care is required when intake is not adequate.

3. Prevention is better than cure. Vaccines are available against both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Donated blood is screened for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C before being issued for transfusion.

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