The liver is one of the vital organs in our body and is responsible for many important functions which are required for our survival. Liver is the largest gland, and is reddish-brown in color, triangular in shape and weighs around 1.5 kilograms. Liver is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, right below the right diaphragm. There are many important functions of the liver, such as, production of amino acids, carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism; production of fetal red blood cell, generating proteins required for clotting, production and secretion of bile, detoxification and producing hormones and their breakdown
So, as you can see what a vital organ liver is with all the important functions to perform, especially digestion and eliminating toxic substances from the body.
Sadly, there are many diseases and medical conditions which can affect the liver. These diseases can be genetic (inherited) or can occur from other causative factors which damage the liver, e.g. alcohol consumption, viruses, chemical exposure etc. Common causes for liver problems are: Infection, problems with immune system, genetics and alcohol abuse. Some of the common symptoms of liver disease includes: Jaundice, swelling and pain in the abdomen, legs and ankles swelling, itching, dark colored urine, chalky or tar-colored stools, bloody stools, fatigue, nausea/ vomiting and appetite loss. If the liver disease is ignored and not treated promptly, then it can cause many complications and can also result in liver failure.
In our Liver Disorders Information Center, we have given a gamut of information on many diseases of the liver. Given below are some snippets on the diseases and conditions of the liver which we have covered in our section. If you want to read in detail about more liver diseases along with their causes, risk factors, complications, symptoms, investigations, prevention and treatment, then please refer to the side menu under our Liver Disorders Information Center.
Liver cancer is the cancer which starts in the liver cells. Liver cancer is classified as Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Cholangiocarcinoma, Hepatoblastoma and Angiosarcoma/Hemangiosarcoma. The cause of liver cancer is not clear, but DNA mutations are thought to cause the abnormal, rapid cell division as well as cell accumulation. Symptoms of liver cancer consist of weight loss, appetite loss, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, liver enlargement, jaundice and chalky white stools. Treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer and includes surgery, liver transplant, cryoablation, radiofrequency ablation, chemoembolization, radiation therapy and targeted drug therapy.
For more details, please visit our Liver Disorders Information Center on the side menu.
This is a hereditary medical condition of the liver commonly found in children characterized by gradual progressive damage to the bile ducts leading to accumulation of the bile in liver and resulting in many medical complications, such as cirrhosis of the liver. Genetic mutation, which is inherited, is the cause of Alagille Syndrome. Symptoms of Alagille Syndrome comprise of appetite and weight loss, slow growth, jaundice, tetralogy of fallot, kidney problems, stroke and xanthomas. Diagnosis can be made by doing liver biopsy, echocardiography, electrocardiography, x-ray of vertebral column and genetic testing. Treatment of Alagille syndrome includes medications, such as antihistaminics, cholesterol medications, MCT oil and vitamin supplements. Surgical procedures include: Liver transplant, cardiac surgery (tetralogy of Fallot) etc.
For more details, please visit our Liver Disorders Information Center on the side menu.
This is a medical condition where the body's own immune system starts attacking the liver causing many problems, such as cirrhosis of the liver or liver failure. Genetic mutations, viral infections and certain medications are some of the causative factors of this condition. Autoimmune Hepatitis has 2 main types: Type 1/ Classic Autoimmune Hepatitis and Type 2 Autoimmune Hepatitis.
Symptoms of Autoimmune Hepatitis comprise of fatigue, abdominal pain, joint pain, pruritus, jaundice, liver enlargement, nausea/ vomiting, loss of appetite and dark urine. Diagnosis can be made through blood tests and liver biopsy. Treatment comprises of immunosuppressant medications and liver transplantation.
For a more detailed read, please visit our Liver Disorders Information Center where we have covered everything about Autoimmune Hepatitis at extensive length.
Hepatitis is a medical condition of the liver characterized by inflammation and presence of inflammatory cells in the liver tissue. Viruses are the common cause of chronic hepatitis. Other causes include: Alcohol, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, and some specific medications like methyldopa, isoniazid and Macrodantin etc. Symptoms consist of upper abdominal discomfort, nausea, appetite loss, jaundice, muscle weakness, alterations in the mental status and joint pain. Treatment for chronic hepatitis consists of antiviral medications, vaccination, losing weight, corticosteroids and liver transplantation.
For more information on Chronic Hepatitis, please click under our Liver Disorders Information Center under the side menu.
This is a medical condition of the liver where fibrous scar tissue replaces the healthy tissues of the liver. Causes include: chronic viral infections, bile duct obstruction, autoimmune hepatitis, fatty liver, congestive heart failure, alcoholic liver cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis, glycogen storage diseases, Wilson’s disease and liver toxicity. Symptoms include: appetite loss, weight loss, fatigue, weight, fever, pain, jaundice, confusion, edema, hepatomegaly, osteoporosis etc. Treatment depends on the cause and comprises of alcohol abstinence; medications like corticosteroids and antiviral medications, chelation therapy, vitamin supplements; and liver transplantation in severe cases.
If you are curious to know more about this dangerous disease, then please read under our Liver Disorders Information Center on the side menu.
This is a condition where there is accumulation of fat in the liver cells. Causes of FLD include: genetic predisposition for non-alcoholic fatty liver and genetic mutation. Other than this, causes include: Obesity, alcohol consumption, certain medications, endocrinal disease, abnormal fat metabolism etc. Symptoms of FLD are: Obesity, weakness, appetite loss, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Diagnosis is done by conducting urine tests, blood tests, ultrasound, MRI and CT scan. Treatment is done by monitoring and treating high blood sugar, complete alcohol abstinence, strict diet with no fatty food and regular exercise.
To know more, please read under our Liver Disorders Information Center on the side menu.
This is an inherited liver disease characterized by inability of the liver to process bilirubin resulting in jaundice. This condition occurs as a result of genetic mutation controlling the enzymes, which binds the bilirubin. Symptoms of GS consist of jaundice, weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, pain, itching etc. Diagnosis can be made by blood tests and genetic testing. Treatment is usually not required, as Gilbert Syndrome is not a serious condition.
To know more about Gilbert Syndrome, please read under our Liver Disorders Information Center
Pregnant ladies rarely have liver disease, only marginal of them have liver problems during pregnancy; and most of the times, they have liver conditions before the pregnancy. Causes of liver diseases in pregnancy include: Acute fatty liver and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, autoimmune hepatitis, Wilson’s disease and viral hepatitis.
There are some types of liver conditions which occur only in pregnancy such as:
- Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy.
- Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy.
- Preeclampsia causes liver problems and an increase in liver enzymes.
- HELLP Syndrome.
Symptoms include: Nausea, vomiting, tiredness, appetite loss, abdominal pain, yellow colored urine, jaundice, palmer erythema, itching, spider angioma and enlarged liver. Treatment comprises of three main methods of treatment: Conservative Treatment, Supportive Care and Medication Therapy.
To know more about these, please visit our Liver Disorders Information Center on the side menu.
Polycystic Liver Disease is a liver condition characterized by multiple cysts in the liver. Causes of PLD include genetic mutations. PLD tends to be more common in females and elderly. Symptoms of PLD are: weight loss, appetite loss, weakness, abdominal pain and distension, shortness of breath back pain, jaundice, esophageal bleeding, encephalopathy and ascites. Treatment for PLD comprises of cyst aspiration, sclerotherapy, cyst excision/ liver resection and liver transplantation.
Reyes Syndrome is a rare and fatal pathological condition, which causes swelling of the brain and liver. Children and adolescents with metabolic abnormalities more commonly suffer from this syndrome. Causes of Reyes Syndrome are: Viral infections, medications like aspirin, fatty acid oxidation dysfunction and toxins. Symptoms of Reyes Syndrome consist of fever, weakness, vomiting, runny nose, diarrhea, anxiety, hallucinations, seizures, loss of consciousness, severe hypoglycaemia and metabolic acidosis. Investigations done for diagnosis include: Blood tests, spinal tap, liver biopsy, CT scan /MRI, skin biopsy, EEG etc.
Treatment for Reyes Syndrome comprises of I.V. fluids, diuretics, anti-seizure medications and correcting any bleeding disorder.
To read more about Reyes Syndrome, please refer to the side menu where our Liver Disorders Information Center is located.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis is a medical condition of the liver which occurs as a result of inflammation and hardening of the bile duct. The cause of PSC is not clear. Some of the associated causes include autoimmune disease, viral infection and genetic malfunction. Symptoms of PSC comprise of weakness, muscle aches, fever, chills, weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, intense itching, jaundice, fatty stool, enlarged liver, dark urine, mental confusion and/or coma. Treatment for PSC is done according to the symptoms, such as anti-histaminic medicine for itching, antibiotics for infection, vitamin supplements for vitamin deficiency, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, ERCP; and liver transplantation as a last resort.
For more detailed information on Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis including Home Remedies, please visit our Liver Disorders Information Center on the side menu.
This is a neonatal medical condition of the liver causing progressive fibro-inflammatory obstruction of the extra-hepatic bile ducts. This disease can be congenital or acquired. Causes of Biliary Atresia are: Congenital, genetic mutation and autoimmune disease. Symptoms comprise of jaundice, enlarged liver, pale and clay like stools, yellow colored urine, itching, growth retardation and cirrhosis. Diagnosis can be made by conducting tests like urine tests, blood tests, ultrasound, MRI, CT scan, surgical cholangiography, percutaneous trans-hepatic cholangiography, liver biopsy and gene expression. Treatment for biliary atresia consists of medications and surgical procedures like Kasai procedure and liver transplantation.
To know more, please click under our Liver Disorders Information Center on the side menu.
This is an inflammatory condition of the liver occurring from alcohol abuse, pain medications like NSAIDs and other medicines, certain herbs/supplements and exposure to chemicals. Symptoms of toxic hepatitis comprise of appetite loss, fatigue, sweating, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, itching, abdominal pain, rashes, weight loss, dark colored urine and clay like stools. Treatment for toxic hepatitis comprises of diet modifications, increased fluids, bed rest, removing the cause i.e. the toxic substances and liver transplant in severe cases.
To know more about toxic hepatitis including its prevention, please refer to the side menu under Liver Disorders Information Center
Neonatal Hepatitis is liver inflammation occurring in infancy. Viral infections are the common cause of neonatal hepatitis. Symptoms of neonatal hepatitis comprise of jaundice, yellow urine, liver enlargement, spleen enlargement, growth retardation, liver cirrhosis, shortness of breath, ascites, confusion and coma. Investigations done for confirmation of diagnosis include: Blood tests, liver function test, serology studies, urine tests, liver biopsy, liver ultrasound, viral & liver culture and duodenal tube test. Treatment comprises of antiviral medications, drinking low fat milk, vitamin supplements and liver transplant in case of liver failure.
To know more about Neonatal Hepatitis, please click under our Liver Disorders Information Center on the side menu where we have a wide array of information on various liver conditions/diseases.
Other Liver Disorders Which are Covered in this Section: