We will be looking at diseases of the liver, which is the largest organ in the body. The liver’s function is to clean or filter the blood from the digestive tract before distributing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile back into the intestines.
The liver is shaped like a dark red cone, weighs about 3 lbs, and is located on the right side of the bode near the stomach. underneath the rib cage, The liver has many functions
Functions of the Liver
The liver holds about one pint of the body’s blood supply at any time. The liver consists of 2 main lobes. Both are made up of 8 segments that consist of 1,000 small lobes. These lobules are connected to small tubes that connect with larger tubes to form the common hepatic duct. The common hepatic duct transports the bile made by the liver cells to the gallbladder, the first part of the small intestine, via the common bile duct.
All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down balances, creates the nutrients, and metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body or nontoxic.
The liver is said to have more than 500 functions, but some of the more known ones are:-
- Conversion of sugar (or glucose ) into glycogen to balance and make glucose as needed. (glycogen can later be converted back to glucose for energy)
- Regulation of blood vessels of amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins.
- Processing hemoglobin for use as iron (which is stored in the liver.)
- Conversion of poisonous ammonia-urea (urea is the end product of protein metabolism and is excreted in the urine)
- Clearing the blood of drugs and other poison
- Regulating blood clotting
- Resisting infection by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream.
Clearance of bilirubin, also from red blood cells. The skin and eyes turn yellow if there is an accumulation of bilirubin.
When the liver has broken down harmful substances, its by-products are excreted into the bile or blood. Bile by-products enter the intestine and leave the body in the form of feces. Blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys and leave the body in the form of urine.
Many diseases can affect the liver; we will look at a few of them:-
In the early stages of liver inflammation, the area becomes hot and painful. But an inflamed liver may cause no discomfort at all, and people with inflammation generally do not feel it. If your liver disease is diagnosed and treated successfully at this stage, the rash may go away. Inflammation of the liver consists of hepatitis A, B, C, D, E,
Hepatitis A- a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus
Hep. B A severe liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus that’s easily preventable by a vaccine.
Hepatitis C An infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation.
Hepatitis D A severe liver disease caused by infection with the hepatitis D virus.
Hepatitis E A liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus.
If the inflamed liver is not treated, it will start to scar; as it scars in excess, the scar tissue grows and replaces the good tissues. This process is called fibrosis.
Scar tissue cannot do the work that the healthy tissue can do, and because of this, the scar tissue can keep the blood from flowing, and the more the scar tissue builds up, the less work the liver can do, or the good part of the liver has to work extra hard to make up for the bat part of the liver.
If the liver is treated at this stage, the liver can be healed. The liver has the ability to heal itself over some time.
Cirrhosis is the hard scarring tissue that replaces the soft, healthy tissue. As Cirrhosis becomes worse, the liver will have less healthy tissue. If Cirrhosis is not treated, the liver will fail and will not work well or at all.
Cirrhosis can lead to further complications, including liver cancer. The symptoms of Cirrhosis are- You may bruise or bleed easily.
Water may build up in the legs and abdomen.
The skin and eyes may take on a yellow color known as jaundice
There may be severe itching of the skin
The blood vessel leading to the liver may burst during the blood vessel becomes blocked.
The sensitivity and side effects of medications may increase.
Type 2 diabetes and resistance to insulin may develop.
Toxins may build up in your brain, causing problems with concentration, memory, sleeping, or other mental functions.
At this stage of the disease, the treatment focuses on keeping the condition from worsening or slowing it down.
END-STAGE LIVER DISEASE (ESLD)
The end-stage liver disease shows signs of decompensation and is irreversible and cannot be treated with medication, and only a liver transplant can help. Decompensation includes hepatic encephalopathy, variceal bleed, kidney
impairment, ascites, and lung issues. The decompensated liver disease allows these patients to be prioritized on the transplant list.
Cancer that starts in the liver is called primary liver cancer. Cirrhosis and hepatitis B are the leading risk factors for primary liver cancer. But cancer can develop in the liver at any stage in the progression of liver disease.
Symptoms of liver cancer usually don’t show up until very late in the disease. Some of the symptoms include.
Unintentional weight loss.
Loss of appetite
Feeling full after eating a tiny meal
Nausea and vomiting
An enlarged liver can be felt on the right side under the ribs
An enlarged spleen felt like a mass under the ribs on the left side.
Pain in the abdomen felt on the right side near the shoulder blade.
Swelling of the abdomen is caused by fluid build-up.
Itching of the skin
Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Some other symptoms can be fever, swelling of the veins on your stomach, which can be seen through the skin also bruising and bleeding of the abdomen.
To maintain a healthy Liver.
Cut down on alcohol intake.
If obese, lose weight.
Eat a balanced diet
The liver is a vital organ of the body; it cleanses the blood; to maintain an excellent healthy liver, we need to take the necessary action.
We need to eat healthily, cut out alcohol and cut down on the intake of red meat, and quit smoking and all unhealthy habits. The dash diet is known for its benefits to our health
Exercise is also essential for our well-being and should be done for at least 30 min. Per day. I have left a link to Silver Sneakers for some exercise. I do hope you enjoy them.
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