Liver Failure Treatment in Abingdon, VA
Liver failure is a very serious, life-threatening condition caused by your liver losing its functionality, and can cause symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and yellow skin or eyes. Liver failure is typically the result of a long-term (chronic) liver condition, though some ailments can cause acute (rapid) liver failure.
What Are the Symptoms of Liver Failure?
Symptoms of liver failure include:
- Appetite changes
- Fluid in your abdomen (ascites)
- Yellow skin and eyes
- Easy bleeding
- Slow abnormal movement of your wrist (liver flap)
- Reddening palms (liver palms)
As liver failure worsens, symptoms are likely to become severe and include mental confusion and coma.
What Causes Liver Failure?
Liver failure occurs when a large part of your liver is damaged from disease, toxins, or injury. There are two main types of liver failure: chronic and acute.
The most common type of liver failure, chronic liver failure develops slowly and is generally caused by cirrhosis, liver cancer, and certain other diseases.
Cirrhosis occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, preventing normal liver function. Cirrhosis is typically caused by:
- Long-term alcohol abuse
- Exposure to toxins
- Hepatitis or other viruses
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Parasite infections
Primary liver cancer is another leading cause of chronic liver failure. This cancer begins in the liver and includes:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma or hepatoma: the most common, and begins in your liver cells
- Cholangiocarcinoma: also known as bile duct cancer
- Angiosarcoma: a very rare type that starts in the blood vessels of the liver
Primary liver cancer typically occurs in livers damaged by alcohol abuse, birth defects, chronic infections like hepatitis B and C , and cirrhosis . In fact, more than half of people diagnosed with primary liver cancer have cirrhosis.
Rapid liver failure is rarer and typically occurs due to poisoning or a severe, rapid-onset illness. Causes of acute liver failure include:
- Acetaminophen overdose: taking too many over-the-counter acetaminophen painkillers like Tylenol is the most common cause of liver failure in the US
- Prescription medication: some antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Herbal supplements: kava, ephedra, skullcap, and pennyroyal
- Viruses: hepatitis A, B, and E, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes
- Toxins: some wild mushrooms and industrial chemicals like carbon tetrachloride
- Autoimmune disease: autoimmune hepatitis causes your immune system to attack liver cells
- Vascular liver disease: Budd-Chiari syndrome can block liver veins and cause failure
- Metabolic disease: Wilson’s disease, acute fatty liver of pregnancy
- Organ shock: severe infection (sepsis)
In rare cases, no cause for acute liver failure is identified. Many healthcare providers believe these rare causes may occur after exposure to an extremely rare or new virus or an unidentified toxin.1 Research regarding these very rare cases is ongoing.
How Is Liver Failure Diagnosed?
Numerous tests can be used to determine if you have liver failure, such as blood tests and imaging tests.
Blood tests can be used to look for:
- Liver enzymes: elevated levels can indicate the presence of liver damage or injury
- Bilirubin: elevated levels often indicate an obstruction of bile flow or a problem with your liver’s ability to process bile
- Albumin, total protein, and globulin: many chronic liver diseases cause low levels of these proteins
- Clotting studies: liver cell damage can prevent proper blood clotting
Imaging diagnostic test to diagnose liver failure include:
- Liver biopsy
- Abdominal ultrasound (sonography)
- Computed tomography scan (CT scan)
How Is Liver Failure Treated?
Liver failure treatment can include:
- Alcohol cessation
- Ceasing medications like antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
- Medications like proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid
- Treating the conditions that cause liver failure, like viruses
Liver failure typically requires a liver transplantation. If performed soon enough, a transplant can restore liver function. Risks of a liver transplant can include:
- Bile duct leaks or shrinking
- Bleeding or blood clots
- Failure or rejection of donated liver
- Mental confusion or seizures
As with any medical procedure, results of liver failure treatments vary from patient to patient, depending on age, genetics, environmental conditions, and other health factors.
Ways to prevent liver failure include:
- Getting the hepatitis vaccine
- Avoiding excessive alcohol use
- Exercise regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Practice proper hygiene
- Use protection when having sex
- Always follow antiseptic guidelines when handling blood
- Avoid drug use, especially drugs that involve needles
In February 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked manufacturers to limit the amount of acetaminophen in prescription medication to 325 mg. Ask your healthcare provider if you are taking any prescription medication with acetaminophen in it.
Reserve Your Appointment Now
Both chronic and acute liver failure are severe medical conditions that require medical care. While chronic liver conditions typically require a liver transplant, acute liver failure can sometimes be reversed or treated if medical attention is reached quickly.
If you suspect you have a liver condition, seek emergency medical attention immediately. To learn more about liver conditions or to diagnose or rule out a liver condition, speak with a specialist in Abingdon today at (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center
Address1604 Lamons Lane
Johnson City, TN 37604
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