Inflammation of the liver is a condition which is caused due to reaction of the liver, when its cells are attacked by disease causing germs or by certain kinds of chemicals.
Liver is an important component of the body’s digestive system. A number of important functions are performed by the liver, which helps the digestive process. It plays a vital role in the conversion of food into energy by producing the much needed bile; it also manufactures hormones and other essential substances; it regularizes the production and the release of cholesterol;and manages the storage of fats. It also drives out toxins like drugs, alcohol, and medicines from the body.
In medical terms, liver inflammation is called as hepatitis. Some cases of liver inflammationare accompanied by mild symptoms, while certain types of liver inflammation are fatal.
Liver inflammation is a condition caused mainly by virus infection. In certain cases liver inflammation is caused by the presence of an autoimmune system disorder, wherein the immune systemincorrectly recognizes the healthy liver cells as harmful cells and attacks them. Liver damage caused by the toxins, alcohol abuse, certain medications can also result in liver inflammation.Presence of certain hereditary disorders, and prolonged blockage in the smooth flow of bile are other causes of liver inflammation.
The prognosis and treatment of liver inflammation depends of the type of hepatitisthat affects the patient.If treatment for hepatitis is not given in time, then it may result in defective liver function and finally in total failure of liver.
Symptoms of liver inflammation
Following are the indications of liver inflammation:
- Diminished levels of energy
- Gastrointestinal and abdominal problems
- Irritation of skin
Liver inflammation can affect various body organs and different body systems. The severity of the above shown symptoms depends on the level of liver inflammation. Thepatients should immediatelycontact a doctor as soon as they notice the symptoms. The common signs of liver inflammation are listed as under:
- Discolored urine or stool
- Itchy skin
- Swelling, bloating, distention of abdomen
- Mild fever or malaise
- Pain in joints
- Lethargy and exhaustion
- Loss of appetite
- The white portion of the eye or the skin may turn yellowish
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting followed by nausea
The following are some of the signs of severe instances of liver inflammation, which may require urgent medical attention so as to avoid complications:
- Problems in walking
- A sudden change in mental or physical behavior, such as confusion, hallucinations, or delirium.
- Vomiting blood, or blackish tarred fluid that resemble coffee grounds
- Extreme fatigue
- Severe bloating and swelling of abdomen
Causes of liver inflammation
There are many types of liver inflammation, and each one of them are caused due to varied reasons. Some of the most common causes of the condition include viral infections, inherited disorder, and exposure to toxins.
A few of the major causes of liver inflammation are listed below:
- Autoimmune disorder and reaction
- Excessive intake or alcohol or alcohol abuse
- Diminished blood flow to the liver
- Deficiency of alpha-1antitrypsin. It is an inherited deficiency disorder that increases the risk of liver and lung damage
- Excessive exposure to toxins and drugs
- The presence of excess iron in the body, which is a condition called as hemochromatosis
- An underlying case of jaundice
- Infection by different viruses
- Increased margins of copper content in body which is called as Wilson’s disease
There are a number of risk factors which can increase the chances of developing liver inflammation. However,the risk factors may not be considered as the only cause ofliver inflammation. The following are some of the risk factors:
- Physical contact with an infected individual, and/or use of personal items such as bedding, utensils, etc. which were used by a person affected by hepatitis.
- Intake of contaminated food or water
- Sexual contact with persons affected by hepatitis
- Alcohol abuse
- Any condition which requires several blood transfusionsas a treatment option
- Travelling to places with contaminated water, or with poor sanitary conditions.
- Contact with the body fluids or blood of persons affected by hepatitisalso increases the risk of developing liver inflammation
- Exposure to the needles used on a hepatitis infected person. Tattoo needles may also be included as a potential risk factor
Treatment of liver inflammation
- All patients affected by liver inflammation should consume plenty of water and take lots of rest.
- If liver inflammation is due to viral infections, then the patient should be treated with various kinds of anti-viral medicines.
- The medicines and treatments of hepatitis patients depend on the diagnosis about the type of hepatitis. Irrespective of the type of hepatitis, all hepatitis patients should immediately stop the intake of alcohol. In addition, the patients should stop taking medicines which induce susceptibility to bleeding such as aspirin, as well as those medications which may cause liver damage as a side effect,such as acetaminophen.