Liver Disorders

The wedge shaped Liver is the largest organ in the body and in some ways the most complex. It is an essential  chemical factory for the body performing many vital functions such as regulating chemical levels  and producing blood clotting agents. The Liver manufactures 1/2 of the bodies cholesterol, the other half coming from food. Most of the cholesterol made by the body is used to make bile but it is also needed to make certain hormones including estrogen, testosterone and the adrenal hormones. Cholesterol is also a vital component of every cell membrane. The Liver also manufactures proteins needed for it’s own functions. Sugars are stored in the Liver as glycogen and then broken down and released into the blood stream as glucose when needed. The Liver break down toxins then excretes them into the blood or bile as harmless byproducts. Bile exits the body through the intestines and eventually the stool. Blood is filtered through the kidneys and any impurities exit through urine. The liver receives blood from the intestines as well as the heart. In through the hepatic artery out through the hepatic vein.

Live disease (also called hepatic disease) is a broad term describing any number of diseases affecting the liver. Diagnosis is done by blood tests, CT scan, ultrasound, MRI or biopsy. Signs of disease are jaundice, bile stoppage, enlargement of the organ, hypertension, ascites, and encephalopathy which is caused by a deterioration of brain function due to buildup of toxins that are normally removed. The less obvious signs are fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite or weight. These symptoms are typical of many illnesses so Liver problems may be overlooked in the early stages. Treatment varies widely according to the cause. The following are the most common disorders of the liver.

  1. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, caused mainly by  viruses but also by some poisons (e.g. alcohol), autoimmune or hereditary conditions.
  2. Fatty liver disease is a spectrum of disease associated with obesity and characterized as an abundance of fat in the liver. It may lead to a steatohepatitis and/or cirrhosis.
  3. Cirrhosis is the formation of fibrous tissue in the liver from replacing dead liver cells. The death of the liver cells can be caused by viral hepatitis, alcoholism or contact with other liver-toxic chemicals.
  4. Haemochromatos is a hereditary disease which causes the accumulation of iron in the body, eventually leading to liver damage.
  5. Cancer of the liver (primary hepatocellular carcinoma or cholangiocarcinoma and metastatic cancers, usually from other parts of the gastrointestinal tract).
  6. Wilson’s disease is a hereditary disease which causes the body to retain copper.
  7. Primary sclerosing cholangitis is an inflammatory disease of the bile duct, likely autoimmune in nature.
  8. Primary biliary cirrhosis is an autoimmune disease of small bile ducts.
  9. Budd-Chiari syndrome is an obstruction of the hepatic vein.
  10. Gilbert’s syndrome is a genetic disorder of bilirubin metabolism. It is  found in about 5% of the population.
  11. Glycogen storage disease type II is the build-up of glycogen. It causes progressive muscle weakness throughout the body and affects various body tissues, particularly in the heart, skeletal muscles, liver and nervous system.
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