Inflammation of the liver


When the liver cells react to the attack by disease causing pathogens, or by some kinds of chemicals, then the resultant condition is known as Inflammation of the liver

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The liver is a vital constituent of the digestive system which carries out various important functions and promotes the digestive processes. Some of its functions include manufacture of bile, which is important for converting food into energy, hormones and other essential materials; regulation of the secretion and output of cholesterol; controlling the storing of fat, and elimination of the different toxins from the body like alcohol, drugs, etc.

Inflammation of the liver is medically known as hepatitis. It is normally caused due to viral infections. In some cases, inflammation of the liver may be the result of occurrence of some autoimmune diseases, which causes the immune system to mistake the healthy cells as abnormal cells and then attack them. Inflammation of the liver can also result from damage to the liver from alcohol abuse, toxin exposure and intake of certain medications. Hepatitis and inflammation of the liver can also be caused due to inherited conditions and perennial obstruction in bile supply. Some forms of inflammation of the liver can produce mild symptoms, while other forms can cause deaths.

The severity, treatment and outcome of liver inflammation usually rely on the kind of hepatitis afflicting the patient. Untreated cases of inflammation of the liver can lead to compromise of liver functionality, ultimately leading to the final stages of liver disease and liver failure.

Liver inflammation symptoms

Initial Stages

The symptoms of inflammation of the liver can affect various body systems, leading to varying effects ranging from reduced energy levels to gastrointestinal and abdominal anomalies to irritation of the skin. These signs differ as per the severity of the disorder. It is essential to urgently consult a doctor when one elicits the symptoms of inflammation of the liver.

A few symptoms of inflammation of the liver are listed below:

  • Presence of mild distention, bloating or swelling of the abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Discoloration of urine or fecal material
  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Itchiness of skin
  • Pain in the joints
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild fever, malaise or a general feeling of being unwell
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting that is often accompanied by nausea
  • The skin or whites of the eyes may turn yellowish

Complications

There are a few health complications that result from inflammation of the liver, which can be life-threatening. In such instances, immediate medical attention is vital. The complications may be identified via the below listed symptoms:

  • Extreme distention, swelling or bloating of the abdomen
  • A change in mental state may be observed or there may be an unexpected behavioral change, including lethargy, confusion, delusions, delirium and hallucinations
  • Difficulties while walking
  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Severe exhaustion or fatigue
  • Bloody or black-colored vomit containing tarred materials that look like coffee grounds

Causes of inflammation of the liver

There can be many different causes of inflammation of the liver, as per the type occurring in the patient. Some of the common causes include infections by viruses, hereditary conditions and exposure to harmful chemicals

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A few causes of inflammation of the liver are as follows:

  • Presence of an autoimmune reaction or disease
  • Alcohol abuse or severe alcoholism
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which is a hereditary condition that elevates the risk of the patient to lung and liver damage
  • Hemochromatosis, which is a disease that is characterized by elevated occurrence of iron in the body
  • Reduced supply of blood to the liver
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals or medications
  • Wilson’s disease, which results in elevated buildup of copper in the body
  • Obstructive jaundice
  • Infection by different viruses

There are a number of risk factors that can increase the susceptibility to developing inflammation of the liver. They are as follows:

  • Contact with or sharing of utensils, towels, bedding or other personal objects which have been used by patients of hepatitis
  • Existence of underlying conditions that require many blood transfusions
  • Consumption of adulterated water or food
  • Excessive intake of alcohol for prolonged periods
  • Intercourse or sexual contact with patients of hepatitis
  • Exposure to needles which have been used on an infected patient, including the use of tattoo needles
  • Going to places which has contaminated water or where the sanitation standards are very poor
  • Exposure to blood and other bodily fluids of an infected patient can also increase the susceptibility to inflammation of the liver

Types of hepatitis

Acute Hepatitis  – which lasts lesser than six months

Chronic Hepatitis  – which lasts more than six monthsc

Causes of acute liver inflammation

  • Viral hepatitis like Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
  • Paracetamol overdose
  • Alcohol toxins
  • Cytomegalovirus and glandular fever and such other viral diseases
  • Fungal toxins
  • Severe bacterial infections

Causes of chronic  liver inflammation

  • Hepatitis B, C and D
  • Alcohol toxins
  • Drug reactions
  • Autoimmune hepatitis in which  the patient’s liver cells are destroyed by his or her own immune system.  This can be an acute condition too.
  • Wilson’s disease caused due to copper disorder in the body or haemochromatosis, iron metabolism disorder.

Liver inflammation treatment

  • The type of hepatitis defines the kind of treatment method to be undertaken. Patients who have been diagnosed with inflammation of the liver have to immediately stop the intake of alcohol. Also, the intake of drugs that elevate the risk to bleeding, like aspirin, and drugs that can potentially cause liver damage, like acetaminophen, should be stopped.
  • Treatment of inflammation of the liver also involves drinking plenty of water and other liquids as well as taking plenty of rest
  • Anti-viral medications may be prescribed to treat inflammation of the liver caused by viral infections
  • For acute viral hepatitis, medical treatment is not generally needed.
  • The patient is administer with antivral agents or interferon Alfa for Chronic Hepatitis B
  • Ribavirin or Interferon Alfa is given to treat Chronic Hepatitis cases
  • Corticosteroids can treat autoimmune hepatitis

Liver Inflammation Diet and Prevention Tips

  1. Adults should consume 2000 to 3000 calories per day  out of which 40 percent of the diet should be carbs, 30 percent fat and 30 percent protein. Check with your dietician for the best diet for your body and lifestyle
  2. Have 15 to 17 glasses of water every day.  Include fresh vegetables in your diet and have seven servings of fruit everyday.
  3. Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A  and Hepatitis B, if you stand to be at high risk
  4. Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Refrain from indulging in fried and processed foods.
  5. Do Yoga and moderate exercises.
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