Liver being an important organ in the body is present in the upper right region of the abdomen. It supports the many important biological functions of the human body along with helping in the functioning of other important organs. Liver damage or liver failure is a condition that occurs due to severe deterioration and degradation of the liver. Thus, the human body becomes incapable of performing the regular functions of the body like assisting in digestion, utilization of nutrients and cleansing of the body from toxins. This inability to assist in digestion and utilization of nutrients can become fatal if left untreated.
What is Liver Damage or Liver Failure and How Does it Happen?
Liver damage or liver failure can be defined as a condition where the liver is unable to perform the basic physiological functions. It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Liver damage or liver failure can occur abruptly or gradually over time, depending on the type of ailment affecting the liver. Liver damage or liver failure can get instigated due to numerous factors and there may be chances where one can develop the condition even without knowing the exact root cause of it.
What is the Treatments for Liver Damage or Liver Failure?
Liver damage or liver failure, when detected early enough, can be treated in time. There also certain situations when the treatment can only prevent further damage to the liver, but cannot heal it completely. The treatment for Liver damage or liver failure is decided based on two key aspects which are type of liver disorder and the extent to which the liver is damaged. The treatments for Liver failure are:
- Preliminary Treatment for Liver Damage or Liver Failure: This treatment mainly aims at regulating and changing the diet and routine of an individual along with administration of the recommended drugs.
- Liver Damage or Liver Failure Treatments Specific to the Liver Disorder: Liver failure can be caused due to numerous causative agents. Each liver damage treatment is specific to the causative agent responsible. Some of them are:
- Hepatitis A Treatment: There is no specific therapy for hepatitis A infection but Hepatitis A vaccination helps in successfully protecting from the disease. Also, maintaining hygiene and ideal sanitation may prevent exposure to it.
- Hepatitis B Treatment: Hepatitis B can be cured using various drugs that suppress the elevated virus levels. The mode of administration can be different for different drugs:
- "pegylated interferon-alpha" is a weekly injection which is taken for a period of six months.
- Oral medications like lamivudine and adefovir help in destroying elevated viral levels causing the liver disease.
In addition to this, Hepatitis B vaccinations are given to new born to prevent the occurrence of hepatitis B from the mother.
- Hepatitis C Treatment for Liver damage or Liver Failure: Hepatitis C can be effectively cured using the combination of injection and oral medication.
- Peginterferon is a weekly injection which is taken for a period of six months.
- Oral medications like ribovarin help in terminating raised viral levels when taken twice daily.
- Alcohol Cessation to Treat Liver Damage or Liver Failure: Extreme Alcohol consumption adversely affects the normal functioning of liver and the sole treatment to check on the alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is to cease the consumption of alcohol along with lifestyle and behaviour modification.
- Autoimmune Liver Disorders: Immunosuppressant's are the medications that lower the activity of the immune-system which in turn help in treating the autoimmune liver disorder. Treatments for the condition include:
- Initially, prednisone is given in high dosage.
- In case, prednisone stands insufficient and causes side effects, then a combination of azathioprine like Azasan or Imuran, can be taken along with prednisone.
- Neoplastic Disorders: To treat neoplastic disorders, anti-cancer drugs along with chemo therapy and radiation therapy are recommended. The treatments in this condition include:
- Per cutaneous Ethanol Injection are given for hepatocellular cancer to prevent the further spread of it.
- Chemoembolization is given for neuroendocrine cancers caused due to improper functioning of liver.
- Intra-Hepatic Chemotherapy is associated with colorectal cancer which further affects the liver.
- Intra-Hepatic Microspheres are administered in the cases of liver metastases due to oesophageal or gall bladder cancer.
- Ascitis: The treatment of ascites involves:
- Regular removal of fluid is done from the abdominal area.
- Minimal consumption of alcohol.
- Consumption of Non- steroidal inflammatory drugs and dietary sodium as per the recommendation by the physician.
- Coagulopathy: The coagulation disturbance caused due to impaired functioning of liver are dealt with various treatments like:
- Using blood transfusion technique to replenish clotting factors for patients with thrombocytopenia and thrombotic complications.
- Administration of Demopressin for patients with prolonged bleeding time.
- Vitamin K therapy for patients with deficiency of Vitamin K due to cholestatic liver disease.
- Hepatic Encephalopathy: The patients with Hepatic Encephalopathy require to be admitted immediately and may require a life support system depending upon the grade of coma during the hospitalization. The patient's intestines are then completely voided of any fluid, substance or infection. Further, medication include:
- Lactulose syrup is given to patient to prevent the growth of intestinal bacteria that creates ammonia, and it also acts as a laxative thus, helps in removing blood from the intestines.
- Neomycin is also prescribed for reduction in production of ammonia by intestinal bacteria.
- Rifaximin, a new antibiotic, is also known to help in hepatic encephalopathy.
- Liver Transplant (Final Phase Treatment) for Liver Damage or Failure: Liver transplant technique is opted in the case when none of the available treatments can cease or reverse the damage done to the liver. This is a surgical procedure which involves the removal of the damaged liver from the patient's body and replacing it with a healthy liver from another donor whether living or deceased.
Do's and Don'ts of Liver Damage or Liver Failure
There is a long list of things that can be done and the ones to refrain from to prevent Liver damage or liver failure.
Do's for Liver Damage or Liver Failure:
- Eat loads of dark leafy green vegetables
- Reduce the amount of sugar intake
- Regular exercise regime
- Consuming black coffee
- Less alcohol consumption or complete alcohol cessation is mandatory in the case of liver damage or liver failure.
Don'ts for Liver Damage or Liver Failure:
- Intake of extra calories should be avoided in the event of liver damage or liver failure:
- Unhealthy weight loss techniques
- Using products and regimes that harm the liver
- Extreme diets.
Prevention of Liver Damage or Liver Failure
The best approach to prevent liver failure is to try and limit your risk of developing hepatic disorders. Some ways by which the objective can be achieved are:
- Hepatitis Vaccination to prevent hepatitis A or B
- Healthy and proper diet
- Avoiding alcohol in general and more so while taking acetaminophen
- Practicing healthy hygiene and sanitation
- Avoid handling of blood or blood products
- Usage of protection while intercourse
- Not using shared needles for injections.
Liver Damage or Liver Failure is a condition which is life threatening and affects millions of people. It requires emergency medical care due to hampering of vital body functions like digestion of food, storage of energy, and removal of toxins. The chronic liver diseases like hepatitis A, B, and C can be prevented by getting vaccinated. The others types are a result of presence of drugs, toxins or alcohol in the body. There are a range of treatments available to treat different types of liver disorders. In cases, when patients do not respond to treatments then liver transplant is another available alternative.