Acute Liver Failure - Not Just a Drinking Problem

by Sam Malone


The liver is a very important organ for the human body. It has may important functions like processing nutrients that digestion of food creates, handles the drugs from the intestines, recycles erythrocytes or red blood cells by breaking them down, creates essential proteins, regulates the use of cholesterol, filters the bile and creates blood clotting agents. This makes the liver a vital organ and when it fails to do any function, it can have painful effects showing signs of liver damage.

Causes

The causes of liver failure as well as the acute liver failure symptoms are many. Liver failure is usually considered and assumed as a sign of liver damage from drinking and alcohol. But that is not the only cause for liver failure. Liver failure in children is usually a sign of liver failure from the damage of medication. An overdose of the common medication paracetamol often causes liver failure. An allergic reaction to different medications also immediately affects the liver. So the beginning of liver failure can also be an allergic reaction. Some of the other causes of liver failure are viral hepatitis, Reye syndrome especially in children who already have a viral infection, and even Wilsons disease.

Even the excessive use of aspirin is known to cause liver failure. An excess of iron in the body can also start liver damage. Sometimes patients are part of drug trials and do not always know how this would affect their livers. If they have beginnings of any kind of liver damage in the beginning stage, these drugs could exacerbate the condition. This damage happens unknowingly also because in a lot of cases even the pharmaceutical companies do not forewarn their users.

Adults who are more prone to injury tend to suffer from liver damage. Women are more susceptible to drug induced liver damage as compared to men.  Genetics also plays an important role as some people have the genes to break up drugs that can cause liver damage. In some drugs, the longer you take them or test them, the higher the chance of getting liver damage. People with less-than-normal functioning kidney are also usually susceptible to liver damage.

Symtoms

Liver failure is usually a symptom for some bigger disease. There are different symptoms of liver failure. The symptoms of liver failure include fatigue and weakness in the early stages. Jaundice is also an important symptom of liver failure. Nails change color and the patient will develop anemia. The stools also become lighter as there no bile because the liver is not filtering the bile. For some patients the abdomen can also enlarge. Excessive thirst and frequent urination and a delay in blood clotting are some symptoms of liver damage.

If the patient is showing acute liver failure symptoms, chances of remedial measures are very slim. Acute liver failure is said to have begun when different diseases like liver cirrhosis start spreading in the body. Consuming poisonous mushrooms or even malnutrition can cause acute liver failure. Liver cirrhosis is caused by external chemicals, mainly alcohol, viruses, toxic metals and autoimmune breakdown. The symptoms of liver cirrhosis are usually not very visible or distinct. The main symptom of the cirrhosis of the liver is jaundice and yellowing of skin. The treatment for cirrhosis of the liver is usually done in phases. In order to prevent further damage you can follow a specific diet. The diet for cirrhosis for the liver is a strict one. The diet has to be a balanced diet, with additional multivitamins. You need to avoid alcohol and drugs completely.

Advanced Cirrhosis of the liver is a very acute state of damage to the liver. The immune system is considerably weakened when patients have advanced cirrhosis of the liver. The symptoms for advanced cirrhosis of the liver include all symptoms of liver damaged by liver cirrhosis.  Cirrhosis is usually caused by excessive alcohol consumption. But there are other causes of cirrhosis too. Causes like hepatitis, chemical exposure, bile duct obstruction, heart and blood vessel disturbance, diabetes and malnutrition cause cirrhosis too.

If a drug causes acute liver failure it is usually because of a high dosage or recurrent multiple doses that have been fed to the patient in quick succession. Sometimes secondary diseases like cancer, vascular liver disease or metabolic diseases like Reyes syndrome can cause acute liver failure. Acute liver failure occurs when many of the livers healthy cells die quickly, reducing the optimum functioning of the organ. Acute liver failure is not such a common occurrence and when it does occur, it usually calls for immediate hospital intervention. Acute liver failure also causes coagulopathy or a clotting or bleeding disorder where the liver does not produce clotting agents and the patient could even bleed to death. Acute liver failure can also cause altering of mental status. It is very important that patients of acute liver failure are treated properly with efficient I. C. U support. Treatment and management of symptoms is quite important in these patients. If the patient continues to worse, he could slip into coma.

Treatment

Treating liver failure, especially acute liver failure, can be very difficult. It is usually very difficult to diagnose and often the symptoms are treated as diseases themselves. While treating liver failure, doctors concentrate on reversing the effects of liver damage. If drugs have caused the liver damage, another drug is given to counter that effect. If an infection is causing the damage, the infection is treated and so on. While this treatment happens, it is also important to keep a check on the risk factors. Eating properly, responding correctly to the physicians care, not drinking alcohol are some of the things the patient should do while receiving care for liver damage. You should also keep away from chemical fumes and other aerosol sprays. Wherever you stay, ensure that there is good ventilation. Liver failure care is usually palliative. If the liver failure is detected only at a very late stage, there is no treatment that is available. The symptoms are monitored and the patient is kept at ease till a transplantation donor arrives.


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
More articles from the Diseases and Ailments Category