Functions of the liver include regulating blood sugar, fighting infections, removing toxins from the body, helping in blood clots, controlling cholesterol and releasing bile for the process of digestion.
World Liver Day is celebrated on the 19th of April every year and marks the need for awareness about liver diseases. The liver is a complex and one of the biggest organs in the body and plays a very important role. Survival without a liver is impossible. All the food that you ingest, goes through your liver. The liver plays an important role in the digestion of the food you eat.
Functions of the liver include regulating blood sugar, fighting infections, removing toxins from the body, helping in blood clots, controlling cholesterol and releasing bile – an enzyme important for the breakdown of food and digestion. A healthy liver ensures that all these functions run properly. If any of these functions are not being performed properly, it means the liver is unhealthy or you have a liver disorder or function. Following are the most common liver diseases that could be a hindrance in the proper functioning of the organ, their symptoms and causes.
The most common hepatitis could be of either of the three types – A, B, or C. All of them are caused by the hepatitis virus of different types and can cause the liver to swell, which leads to disturbance in the normal functioning of the organ. Hepatitis C is the most common type of hepatitis among the three. Hepatitis can spread due to consuming contaminated food or beverage, or through sexual contact with an already infected person. The first symptoms of hepatitis include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, etc.
Another common liver disease is liver cancer, characterized by the overgrowth of cells in the liver. Cancer that begins in the liver is called the liver cancer, while cancer that spreads to the liver from another organ is called the metastatic liver cancer. The causes of liver cancer can be excessive alcohol consumption, chronic infection from hepatitis virus and sometimes, the causes may be unknown. Symptoms of liver cancer are unintended weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal swelling, symptoms of jaundice among others.
It is okay for the liver to contain some fat. However, when the fat content in the liver increases from 5-10% of the total weight of the liver, it is termed as a fatty liver. If the fatty liver is not caused by alcohol, the condition is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It leads to a build-up of extra fat in the liver cells. Symptoms of the disease could be yellow skin, enlarged breasts in men, fatigue, and pain in the upper right abdomen.
Alcohol-related liver diseases are very common in people but are preventable. Women are more likely to be affected by such diseases than men. Caused due to excessive alcohol consumption, these diseases could range from fatty liver to liver cancer or failure. Alcohol is the most common cause of liver cirrhosis after hepatitis C.
Liver cirrhosis is when the normal liver tissue is replaced by non-living scar tissue. Liver cirrhosis can occur due to a result of other liver diseases. Alcohol is the most common cause of a lot of liver problems including liver cirrhosis, after hepatitis C virus.
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