Liver failure is also known as hepatic failure, is a life-threatening medical condition. The liver is one of the essential organs in our body, which is responsible for carrying out several functions such as filtering alcohol, and other harmful substances from the blood, fighting infections, genetics, etc. Having liver failure can cause colossal damage to you and your body. Liver failure can result from several factors such as viruses, infections, or harmful substances. It is thus important that one takes good care of the liver. 

Here is everything one needs to know about liver failure – its stages, symptoms, causes and treatment. 

Liver failure can be of two types- acute and chronic. As the name suggests, acute liver failure is for a short duration of time and comes quickly, whereas chronic liver failure develops gradually over time. The liver failure stages are as follows- 

  1. Inflammation – Inflammation is the early stage of liver failure where the liver is enlarged or inflamed. One may or may not experience this at all. However, if the inflammation continues, severe damage can be caused to the liver.
  2. Fibrosis- Increased inflammation can lead to scarring of the liver. A scared tissue builds up in place of the healthy liver and disrupts the liver’s normal functioning. The symptoms of fibrosis are usually difficult to detect.
  3. Cirrhosis- In this stage, scarring gets even worse. Very less healthy liver tissues are present, and the functioning of the liver further deteriorates. The symptoms that were not present earlier are now visible. 
  4. End-stage liver disease (ESLD)- ELSD is an umbrella term for several liver conditions. People with ELSD have cirrhosis in which liver function has been critically damaged. Liver failure and jaundice often take place in this stage.  This is because the liver is not able to remove enough bilirubin from the blood, which leads to the yellowing of the skin. 
  5. Cancer – This is where unhealthy cells grow rapidly in the liver. People with cirrhosis are often at risk of developing cancer. 

Symptoms of liver failure- 

For acute liver failure-

Many a time, acute liver failure occurs in people who don’t have liver conditions. It usually develops within a few days. Acute liver failure is rare and needs quick medical attention. Some of the symptoms are – 

  1. Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice) 
  2. Ascites (abdominal swelling)
  3. Pain in the upper right abdomen 
  4. Nausea or vomiting.
  5. Confusion or disorientation
  6. Sleepiness 

For chronic liver failure- 

Chronic liver failure is common in people and develops gradually over time. Some of the early symptoms of liver failure are– 

  1. Fatigue
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Abdominal pain 
  4. Vomiting or nausea. 

With time the symptoms can worsen. Some symptoms that can show up in the later stages are – 

  1. Jaundice
  2. The buildup of fluids in the abdomen, or the extremes – arms or legs 
  3. Extreme exhaustion
  4. Disorientation or confusion

With such serious symptoms as jaundice, nausea and exhaustion, one may lose several nutrients. To make up for the lost nutrients, seek help from nutrition counselling services

Liver failure Causes – 

Acute liver failure that lasts for a few days can result from a variety of factors. Some of the possible causes are as follows – 

  1. Viral infections such as Hepatitis ( A, B or E) or the Epstein-Barr virus 
  2. Medical conditions such as Wilson’s disease. 
  3. Reactions to herbal medications that kill the liver cells 
  4. Reactions to medications such as NSAIDs, antibiotics, etc. 
  5. Autoimmune Hepatitis
  6. Consuming poisonous mushrooms. 

Chronic liver failure develops slowly over time. It can also lead to cirrhosis of the liver. Some of the liver failure causes are- 

  1. Alcohol or drug abuse for a long period. 
  2. Non-alcoholic Fatty liver disease
  3. Chronic Hepatitis B or C 
  4. Autoimmune Hepatitis

Liver failure Treatment – 

Although liver failure is a life-threatening medical condition, it can be cured. If you notice any early symptoms of liver failure, you must consult your primary care doctor. They may further recommend a hepatologist if there are any reasons to worry.  In times of COVID -19, where going out is unsafe, one may also teleconsult a hepatologist. 

Liver failure can be cured with the help of proper medications. Your hepatologist will prescribe you medications that will reverse the effects of poisonous mushrooms or other toxins. They may also recommend and perform liver transplant surgery in case the liver is critically damaged. In a liver transplant surgery, the liver’s damaged part is discarded and replaced with a healthy one. This procedure is often safe and successful. 

Many a time, liver failure and kidney failure may occur simultaneously. Thus it is important that one seeks treatment from a professional. Seek guidance from the best hepatologist in Patna for your liver treatment. 

Prevention is better than cure; thus, it’s always better that one knows how to maintain liver health. Proper diet, healthy lifestyle, timely vaccination, no alcohol consumption, etc., are keys to having a healthy liver.

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