Liver failure are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States, with the majority of preventable cases attributed to excessive alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Cirrhosis often is an indolent disease; most patients remain asymptomatic until the occurrence of decompensation, characterized by ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy, or variceal bleeding from portal hypertension.
Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C. This disease leads to abnormalities in the liver's ability to handle toxins and blood flow, causing internal bleeding, kidney failure, mental confusion, coma, body fluid accumulation, and frequent infections.
What Causes Liver Failure
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose
Reaction to a prescribed medication
In babies, the most common cause of cirrhosis is due to blocked bile ducts - a disease called biliary atresia. In this case, the bile ducts are absent or injured, causing the bile to back up in the liver. These babies are jaundiced (their skin is yellowed) after the first month of life. Sometimes, they can be helped by surgery in which a new duct is formed to allow bile to drain again from the liver.
Symptoms of Liver Failure
Intermittent recurrent abdominal or gastrointestinal upsets. loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation.
Progressive depression or lethargy. does not want to play anymore or refuses to go for walks.
Swollen belly with a "fluid filled" look. This is also known as ascites and is actually fluid accumulation in the belly due to circulation alterations in the abdomen.
The early symptoms of liver failure are similar to symptoms of many other conditions. Because of this, liver failure may initially difficult to diagnose. Some of the most common initial symptoms of liver failure are:
Nausea, Loss of appetite, Fatigue, Diarrhea
Intermittent recurrent abdominal or gastrointestinal upsets. loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation. Progressive depression or lethargy. does not want to play anymore or refuses to go for walks.
Alcoholic hepatitis is a syndrome with a spectrum of severity, and therefore presenting symptoms vary. Symptoms may be nonspecific and mild, and include anorexia and weight loss, abdominal pain and distention, or nausea and vomiting. Alternatively, more severe and specific symptoms may include encephalopathy and hepatic failure.
Weight loss- The poor appetite that occurs in liver disease eventually leads to loss of weight. Improper metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins complicates the situation also.
Treatment of Liver Failure
Currently, the goal of treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients who are obese and/or have elevated blood lipids (fat) is weight loss. Those who are diabetic with poor control of blood sugar should work with a diabetes specialist and dietitian to control their blood sugar. All patients with NAFLD should avoid alcohol.
Treatment depends on the type and stage of the cirrhosis. Its aim is to stop the progress of the cirrhosis, reversing (to whatever extent possible) the damage that has already occurred, and treating complications that are disabling or life-threatening.
If there is still not enough bile flow with the Kasai procedure, liver transplantation is a final option. A liver transplant operation removes the damaged liver and replaces it with a new liver from a donor.
After transplant surgery, the child's health may improve quite quickly. However, the child's body might reject the new organ. To prevent rejection, a strict schedule of anti-rejection medications must be taken.
Liver transplantation is a lengthy surgery and complications, such as infection, bleeding and even death are possible. In some cases, the new liver may be rejected by your body.
The wait for a liver donation can be long, so researchers are working on alternatives to donated livers, such as artificial livers and machines that can perform liver functions. Currently, their use is mostly limited to clinical trials.
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