Liver (Anatomy and Function) (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What Is the Function of Liver in Human Body?
- What Is the Function of the Liver?
- What Are Symptoms of Liver Diseases?
- What Does the Liver Look Like, and Where Is It Located in the Body?
- Liver Disease Causes (Fatty Liver, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, and Infections)
- Liver Disease Causes (Medications, Toxins, Genetics, Cancer, and Others)
- What Kind of Doctor Treats Liver Disease?
- What Are Liver Function Tests?
- What Is a Liver Biopsy?
- Can Diseases of the Liver Be Prevented?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Liver Disease Causes (Fatty Liver, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, and Infections)
Many diseases may affect the liver directly or as a consequence of an illness or disease that begins in another organ.
Fatty liver disease
- Fatty liver disease, caused by accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides within the liver is not associated with alcohol abuse. Fatty liver disease is also referred to as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
- Cirrhosis of the liver describes a condition of scarring in the liver that is not reversible and may lead to liver failure.
- Alcohol abuse causes cirrhosis of the liver and is the most common cause of liver disease in North America.
Hepatitis is an infection of the liver that causes liver inflammation.
- Hepatitis A is often spread by poor sanitary habits including poor handwashing and may be transmitted by food handlers. It tends to be self-limited.
- Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are spread by contact with infected body fluids.
- Hepatitis D is spread in conjunction with hepatitis B and needs the B virus for it to survive in the body and cause liver damage.
- Hepatitis E is a food or water borne infection.
- There are vaccinations available to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Infections may affect the liver, including:
Liver Disease Causes (Medications, Toxins, Genetics, Cancer, and Others)
Medications or drug induced liver inflammation
Liver inflammation is a relatively common side effect of medications. Some commonly prescribed medications include the following:
- acetaminophen over the counter (Tylenol, Panadol) but also in prescription pain medications (hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lortab, Vicodin, Norco)
- Statins (medications used to control elevated blood cholesterol levels)
- Antibiotics (amoxiciilin-clavulinic acid [Augmentin, Augmentin XR], nitrofurantoin [Macrodantin, Furadantin, Macrobid], tetracycline, isoniazid)
- methotrexate (Trexall, Rheumatrex)
- disulfiram (Antabusel)
- Herbal remedies, for example, kava kava, mahuang, comfrey
- Poisonous mushrooms may damage the liver and cause liver failure.
- Alcohol in large doses can be toxic for the liver and damages the liver over time.
- Aflatoxins produced by certain fungi are toxic to the liver
- Industrial chemicals may be toxins that affect the liver, such as arsenic and carbon tetrachloride
Genetic disorders can affect the liver, examples include the following:
- Hemochromatosis with abnormal iron storage
- Wilson's Disease with abnormal copper storage
- Gilbert's Disease with abnormal bilirubin metabolism
- Primary liver cancers arise directly from cells within the liver.
- Metastatic liver disease describes cancer that arises from another organ and invades the liver
Abnormalities of bile flow from the liver
Abnormalities of bile flow from the liver may lead to liver inflammation, for example:
Decrease in blood flow draining from the liver
Decrease in blood flow draining out of the liver may cause the liver to become congested and inflamed, two examples include:
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