The liver, the largest solid organ, weighing about 3 pounds or 1.36 kg is one of the most vital organs in a human body. It holds over 1/10th of the body’s total blood supply, at any given time (which is half a litre approximately). The importance of the liver in a human body is self evident if known its various functions.
The Functions of the Liver:
1) Produces enzymes and proteins that are responsible for the clotting of the blood and tissue repair, transport of Oxygen and function of the immune system.
2) Produces hormones and maintains the balance of hormones.
3) Regulates the supply of glucose (sugar) and lipid (fat) to the body which the body needs as fuel.
4) Produces a substance called Bile that helps in digestion of food, especially fat.
5) Gets rid of toxins from the blood.
6) Stores excess nutrients and returns sum of the nutrients to the blood stream.
If the liver is damaged, all of the above mentioned functions get disturbed, resulting in slow and painful death if not diagnosed early and properly treated.
Cirrhosis is a disease caused by the scar tissues that replace healthy liver tissues, thereby changing the look, shape/architecture of the liver, restricting the liver to function properly.
Everything that results in damaging the liver can be the cause of cirrhosis. Excess alcohol intake and fatty liver are the two most responsible factors that lead to cirrhosis. The other main causes of liver damage and cirrhosis are as follows:
a) Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis D (extremely rare) that are viral infections and chronic in nature.
b) Bile duct getting blocked.
c) Fluid getting back into the liver.
f) Hemochromatosis- Caused due to the absorption of excessive iron and deposition in the liver and other organs resulting in abnormal liver function.
g) Wilson’s disease- A disease caused by the excessive storage of copper in the liver resulting in abnormal liver function.
There are other very rare cases that cause cirrhosis.
B) Sudden weight gain/loss.
C) Swollen ankles, legs and abdomen due to retention of fluids.
D) Orange/brownish urine.
E) Appetite loss
F) Change in personality, confused or disoriented look.
G) Stools light in colour.
H) Redness on arms and legs.
I) Fever and blood in the stool.
J) Jaundice (Yellowness of skin and eyes).
K) Change in appearance and shape of the nails.
L) Darkening of the skin and bruises.
Diagnosis of Cirrhosis of the liver is done by:
a) Physical examination, blood test and the history of the patient.
b) Biopsy of liver.
c) CAT (Computerized Tomography).
d) MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
RECOMMENDATIONS: To prevent liver damage that ultimately (if ignored) leads to cirrhosis, the following points are to be noted carefully:
a) Intake of alcohol to be limited or stopped assessing the severity of the case.
b) Good and balanced high protein diet.
c) Careful control of blood glucose in diabetic patients.
d) Avoid toxic chemicals.
e) Avoid getting hepatitis.
f) Timely and proper treatment of hepatitis.