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CAUSES & SYMPTOMS

There are many causes of liver disease. Over time, liver disease may lead to scarring and serious complications. Early treatment can help heal damage and prevent liver failure. In the early stages of liver disease, the symptoms may not be readily apparent. However, at a certain advanced stage, many hold in common symptoms that are strong indicators of a level of damage that would require immediate medical attention.

 

 If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is imperative that you consult a physician as soon as possible. If the situation is, or becomes, in any way critical, it is vital that you dial 911 or proceed immediately to your nearest ER if it is safe and possible to do so.

Disclaimer: Please always seek the advice of your primary care physician or qualified health care provider.

Liver Abstract Art

SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE:

CAUSES OF LIVER DISEASE:

(Please see Glossary of Terms for definitions)

Viral infections

Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E are the main viruses that cause liver inflammation (hepatitis).

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Cause of NAFLD is unknown. Risk factors include: obesity, gastric bypass surgery, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. The more severe form of NAFLD is NASH.

Sustained excessive alcohol use

Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) results from chronic heavy alcohol consumption.  

Cancer

When abnormal cells multiply in the liver, tumors may develop. Tumors may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Inherited conditions

Genetic conditions (inherited from parents) such as Wilson disease and hemochromatosis.

Autoimmune diseases

When the body's immune system attacks the liver, causing inflammation. Includes autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cholangitis. 

TYPES OF LIVER FAILURE:

Acute liver failure - 

Develops rapidly, typically over days to a few weeks. Often happens after an overdose of medicine or poisoning. The most common cause in the U.S. is taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol and others).

Chronic liver failure -

Progresses over months, years, or decades. Most often the result of cirrhosis. The most common causes are alcohol abuse, chronic viral hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and hemochromatosis. 

Acute-on-chronic liver failure -

Rapid decompensation of cirrhosis associated with single or multiple-organ failure and high short-term mortality. Bacterial infection and active alcohol intake are the most common triggers in the western world. In the east, hepatitis B flare followed by sepsis and active alcohol intake are the common triggers. There is no known therapy except for liver transplantation.

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