The liver is a large, meaty organ that sits on the right side of the belly. Weighing about 3 pounds, the liver is reddish-brown in color and feels rubbery to the touch. Normally you can't feel the liver, because it's protected by the rib cage. The liver has two large sections, called the right and the left lobes. The gallbladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines.
The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.
The liver's main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. The liver also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions.
Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, usually caused by viruses like hepatitis a, b, and c. Hepatitis can have non-infectious causes too, including heavy drinking,drugs, allergic reactions, or obesity.
Cirrhosis: Long-term damage to the liver from any cause can lead to permanent scarring,called cirrhosis. The liver then becomes unable to function well.
Liver cancer: the most common type of liver cancer, hep to cellular carcinoma, almost always occurs after cirrhosis is present.
Liver failure: Liver failure has many causes including infection, genetic diseases, and excessive alcohol.
Ascites: As cirrhosis results, the liver leaks fluid (ascites) into the belly, which becomes distended and heavy.
Gallstones: If a gallstone becomes stuck in the bile duct draining the liver, hepatitis and bile duct infection (cholangitis) can result.
Hemo-chromatosis: Hemo-chromatosis allows iron to deposit in the liver, damaging it. The iron also deposits throughout the body, causing multiple other health problems.
Primary-sclerosing cholangitis: A rare disease with unknown causes, primary sclerosing-cholangitis causes inflammation and scarring in the bile ducts in the liver.
Primary-biliary cirrhosis: In this rare disorder, an unclear process slowly destroys the bile ducts in the liver. Permanent liver scarring (cirrhosis) eventually develops.
Symptoms of liver disease
Right upper quadrant abdominal pain, and jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin due to elevated bilirubin concentrations in the bloodstream).
Fatigue, weakness and weight loss may also be occur.
However, since there are a variety of liver diseases, the symptoms tend to be specific for that illness until late-stage liver disease and liver failure occurs.
Fatty liver disease
Some fat in the liver is normal. But if fat makes up more than 5%-10% of the weight of your liver, you may have alcoholic or non alcoholic liver disease. In some cases,these diseases can lead to serious complications. Alcoholic liver disease (old)more than 15 million people in the u.s. abuse or overuse alcohol. Almost all of them -- 90%-100% -- develop fatty livers.
Fatty liver can occur after drinking moderate or large amounts of alcohol. It can even occur after a short period of heavy drinking (acute alcoholic liver disease).
Genetics or heredity (what is passed down from parent to child) plays a role in alcoholic liver disease in two ways: it may influence how much alcohol you consume and your likelihood of developing alcoholism. And, it may also affect levels of liver enzymes involved in the break-down (metabolism) of alcohol.
Other factors that may influence your chances of developing alcoholic fatty liver disease include:
Hepatitis c (which can lead to liver inflammation)
An overload of iron
NON ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE (NAFLD)
Non alcoholic fatty liver disease is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the u.s. some people with excess fat in the liver simply have what's called a fatty liver. Although this is not normal, it is not serious if it doesn't lead to inflammation or damage.
Others have what's called non-alcoholic steatohepatisis (nash). Although it is similar to alcoholic liver disease, people with this type of fatty liver disease drink little or no alcohol. Nash can lead to permanent liver damage. The liver may enlarge and, over time, liver cells may be replaced by scar tissue. This is called cirrhosis. The liver can't work right and you may develop liver failure,liver cancer, and liver-related death. Nash is one of the leading causes of cirrhosis.
Both types of nafld are becoming more common. Up to 20% of adults may have either fatty liver or nash. And more than 6 million children have one of these conditions, which are most common in asian and hispanic children. Recent evidence indicates that nafld increases the risk of heart disease in children who are overweight or obese.
Causes of non alcoholic fatty liver disease (Nafld)
The cause of non alcoholic fatty liver disease is not clear. Certain factors tend to increase risk, but in some cases, no risk factors show up. However, nafld tends to run in families. It also shows up most often in people who are middle-aged and overweight or obese. These people often have high cholesterol or triglycerides and diabetes or pre-diabetes (insulin resistance), as well.
Other potential causes of fatty liver disease include:
Autoimmune or inherited liver disease
Rapid weight loss
Recent studies show that an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine and other changes in the intestine may be associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Some researchers now suspect this may play a role in the progression of Nafld to Nash.
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