What Does Liver Size Say About My Health

What Does Liver Size Say About My Health?

The liver is one of the largest organs in your body. It plays a vital role in digestion, absorption, and excretion of nutrients. A healthy liver helps prevent or at least reduce the risk of several diseases such as hepatitis B, cirrhosis (scarring), alcoholism, and cancer.

Liver size varies greatly among individuals. Some have large livers while others are small.

There is no way to predict which person will develop liver disease until they start developing symptoms. Most people with liver problems do not realize that their condition may be due to something other than just drinking too much alcohol or taking certain medications.

A liver biopsy is usually required before a diagnosis of alcoholic hepatitis can be made. An examination of the liver reveals fat deposits called plaques.

These are composed mainly of triglycerides (fatty acids) and cholesterol. Fatty acids accumulate in the arteries because they don’t easily flow through narrow vessels like water does. Cholesterol accumulates in the blood vessels because it doesn’t readily pass through narrow channels like blood does. It is one of the causes of high blood pressure. Arteries that nourish the liver with oxygen and nutrients get blocked by the plaques. The liver becomes damaged due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients.

The most common symptoms include a high fever, which could last for several days. Other signs include dark urine, pale stools, loss of appetite, nausea, pain or aching in stomach area, irritability, rapid breathing, and persistent fatigue.

The skin and eyes might turn yellow (jaundice). It could also cause stomach or bowel inflammation, reduction or bleeding.

Sometimes the first symptoms of liver disease do not appear until the liver has been severely damaged.

Diagnosis of Liver Disease by Tapping on the Right Ribcage

You have a liver disease if you can hear a ‘drumlike’ sound when your doctor taps with a knuckle on your right ribcage. This is medically known as ‘Cooley’s Tapping’.

It can also be diagnosed by a blood test.

An ultrasound scan of your liver can help to indicate how much damage has been done to the organ.

The combination of these two methods will provide your doctor with enough information to make a proper diagnosis.

The liver is the second largest organ in the human body (the skin is the largest).

It is located in the lower part of the abdomen.

It is mainly responsible for removing toxins from the blood. It also helps to remove waste products from the body.

The liver produces a fluid called bile. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and helps in the digestion of food in the small intestines.

In some cases, you may be referred to a liver specialist (a hepatologist). In some cases, hospitalization will be necessary especially if there is severe damage to the liver.

What is the Treatment for Liver Disease?

The treatment options available for liver disease will be discussed with you by your doctor. They will take into consideration your age, gender, overall health, medical history, and the type of liver disease that you have.

There are different types of liver disease. Each type requires special attention and treatment.

This is because the cause of each type of liver disease is different.

Your liver disease may be reversible. This means that restoring normal liver function is all that’s required to treat it.

In other cases, liver failure may become necessary. A liver transplant is then the only option for survival.

Here are some of the treatment options for liver disease:

Liver Transplant

This is one of the common treatments for liver diseases. In some cases, the wait for a deceased donor can be up to 10 years or even longer.

If you are very sick and require a transplant, your doctor will most likely place you on the national transplant list.

If you use drugs or alcohol, you might be denied a liver transplant even if you are in serious need of one. This is because doctors believe that you are more likely to abuse alcohol or harmful substances after the surgery, which can result in the removal of the new liver.

The liver usually comes from a person who has just died. A few living donors have also donated part of their liver to a loved one who is in need of a transplant.

Following the transplant, a patient will require lifelong checkups to make sure that the transplanted liver is functioning properly. It is also possible for your immune system to view the new liver as a foreign object and attack it.

This is called rejection. Rejection can be combated with immunosuppressant medications.

Dietary Changes

Some types of liver disease can be managed by changing your diet. This can be difficult since a healthy diet consists mainly of food that you should avoid.

It might also be very frustrating for some people to give up certain foods.

Your doctor may advise you to follow a specific diet depending on the type of liver disease that you have. It is very important to strictly follow the dietary guidelines that your doctor gives you.

For patients with viral hepatitis, nutritional supplements are often recommended. These are available over the counter.

They help the liver regenerate and recover from damage.

Exercise

Liver disease can cause your body to become weaker. You may find that you are less physically active than you once were because simple tasks such as walking up the stairs become very difficult.

Exercise can actually help people with liver disease by strengthening their muscles and improving their quality of life. You should consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Your doctor will also let you know what exercises are safe for you and which ones may not be a good idea. For example, aerobic exercise is usually recommended for people with liver disease.

This is because it helps the lungs function better and can increase the patient’s quality of life.

However, activities such as contact sports or weightlifting are not recommended because they can cause internal bleeding and may do more harm than good.

Following your doctor’s advice is very important when it comes to exercise. Work closely with him so that you can determine what exercises are safe for you.

Dietary Supplements

Liver disease reduces the liver’s capacity to synthesize some vitamins and other nutrients. For this reason, patients are often advised to take dietary supplements, especially the ones that help the liver regenerate and recover from damage.

Folic acid helps the body produce healthy red blood cells. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the body against cell-damaging free radicals.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that prevent hardening of the arteries and clotting of blood.

Supplements are widely available at most pharmacies and grocery stores. Your doctor will be able to recommend a specific supplement or brand based on your medical history.

Stem Cell Transplants

One of the most promising experimental treatments for liver disease is a stem cell transplant. In this procedure, stem cells are harvested from the patient’s blood or bone marrow.

The stem cells are then treated with growth factors and other chemicals to make them develop into mature liver cells.

These new cells are then injected into the patient, where they go on to repair damaged liver tissue. Results of this experimental procedure have been very positive so far.

However, the cost is quite high and not everyone is eligible for the treatment.

Liver Transplant

If your liver disease is too far advanced, or in the case of severe cirrhosis, a liver transplant may be necessary. In this procedure, the diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy liver from a donor.

This procedure is more successful than it used to be and patient’s livers are now known to last for more than 20 years after transplantation.

However, there is still a shortage of donor livers. Only 25% of patients on the liver transplant list survive until a donor liver becomes available.

Of these survivors, about 25% will experience significant liver failure again within five years after transplant.

The best chance of receiving a liver transplant is to be in the best of health before becoming ill. Also remember that a liver can only be donated if the donor is deceased.

Living donors are not usually accepted for this procedure.

Learn more about liver transplant.

The Future of Liver Disease

Liver disease is a serious public health concern and new research is being done in order to address this problem. Some of the recent research has been focused on finding better ways of treating acute liver failure and other life-threatening complications of chronic liver disease.

Other research has looked at how gastrointestinal bacteria affects the liver. Some studies have found that people with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis have more harmful bacteria in their digestive tract than healthy people.

Treatment with antibiotics has resulted in decreased liver inflammation in these patients.

Other studies have focused on finding bacteria or bacterial-like cells that might be able to replace the function of the liver. These studies have focused on freshwater pearls and some types of algae, but so far there are no practical applications of this research.

As with most diseases, the best way to prevent liver disease is to avoid things that put a strain on your liver. This means that you should avoid alcohol and drugs, especially Tylenol and other NSAIDs.

Eat a healthy diet and avoid overeating. Quitting smoking is also important to protecting your liver. Finally, get vaccinated! Your liver has to work extra hard to clear out toxins after getting a hepatitis A or B vaccine.

Liver Disease: A Serious Problem

Liver disease is a serious problem that has affected human beings for thousands of years. In ancient China, Egyptian and Indian civilizations, liver diseases were common among people who drank alcohol excessively.

Today, even though we know the dangers of excess drinking, there are many other causes of liver disease such as obesity, hepatitis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Sources & references used in this article:

Addressing liver disease in the UK: a blueprint for attaining excellence in health care and reducing premature mortality from lifestyle issues of excess consumption of … by R Williams, R Aspinall, M Bellis, G Camps-Walsh… – The Lancet, 2014 – thelancet.com

Quality of life and mental health comparisons among liver transplant recipients and cirrhotic patients with different self-perceptions of health by MÁ Pérez-San-Gregorio, A Martín-Rodríguez… – Journal of clinical …, 2013 – Springer

Milk fat globule-EGF factor 8, secreted by mesenchymal stem cells, protects against liver fibrosis in mice by …, J Han, J Lee, G Lee, JY Park, SY Park, JH Kim, BR Do… – Gastroenterology, 2017 – Elsevier

How patients manage life and health while waiting for a liver transplant by MS Baker, CL McWilliam – Progress in transplantation, 2003 – journals.sagepub.com

Cryosurgical ablation and radiofrequency ablation for unresectable hepatic malignant neoplasms: a proposed algorithm by AJ Bilchik, TF Wood, D Allegra, GJ Tsioulias… – Archives of …, 2000 – jamanetwork.com