The liver is among the most essential organs in the body. We often tend to forget its importance, but the liver performs vital functions such as the breaking down of toxic substances, synthesis of proteins, production of hormones, breakdown of red blood cells, and of course production of bile to help with digestion. It is therefore important to be aware of the diseases and conditions that can affect the liver, and also their causes and preventive measures. Almost all liver conditions are extremely dangerous, and if not treated or managed in time, can have serious consequences.
The causes of liver problems vary greatly each problem develops in a different manner, and is caused by different factors. Hepatitis is among the most common conditions to affect the liver. This condition itself has several different causes. In a large number of cases, hepatitis is caused by a group of viruses known simply as “hepatitis viruses”, but other causes also exist, such as excessive consumption of alcohol. Other chemicals can also damage the liver and cause hepatitis these include certain medications, if taken in excess over a long period of time, as well as certain naturally occurring chemicals, such as those found in poisonous mushrooms. There are also a few autoimmune and metabolic diseases that can cause hepatitis, but these are less common, and involve a number of other symptoms too.
Another common liver condition is cirrhosis of the liver. This is sometimes a consequence of hepatitis, involving more serious damage to the liver. Most of the causes are the same as those of hepatitis viral infections, alcohol abuse, and so on. However, cirrhosis can also occur independently, as a result of conditions such as cystic fibrosis and certain hereditary disorders.
Like most of our organs, the liver is also susceptible to cancer. Here too, chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis are often responsible for the development of cancer, and hence the causes can ultimately be traced to the same viral infections and alcohol abuse. However, it is also possible for liver cancer to be the result of metastasis the spreading of a malignant cancer from other parts of the body, usually from some part of the gastrointestinal tract itself.
These are of course not the only liver problems possible. There are several less common liver diseases, and these are no less serious. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult a doctor if you have any unexplained and chronic symptoms such as frequent rashes, itching, excessive body odor, dark urine, and of course jaundice.