Stages of Liver Disease

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The liver is a vital organ for keeping the body healthy. When the liver begins to deteriorate, it goes through several stages before eventually resulting in a complete deterioration of the liver. If the signs are recognized early on then a more serious situation can be avoided. If it is not caught early, it may lead to the need for a liver transplant or lead to a more dire result--death.

Liver

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body and one of the hardest working. When working properly, it digests food and removes toxins received from alcohol and drugs from the body. A healthy liver synthesizes protein, something a failing liver has great difficulty doing. It also uses the nutrients from food as energy to perform normal bodily functions. This amazing organ also has the ability to regenerate itself if damaged. It goes through at least four stages before it becomes a withering organ.

Inflammation

An inflammation of the liver is the first stage of liver disease. An inflamed liver can be due to excessive drug or alcohol use. It may also be the result of another condition such as certain forms of Hepatitis and Wilson’s disease.

The liver will become enlarged and red. Sometimes pain is also involved, but more often there is no discomfort in this primary stage.

If discovered in this stage, the chances of repairing the liver are good.

Fibrosis

The next stage of liver disease is fibrosis. Fibrosis is essentially scar tissue, which results from the liver being inflamed for a lengthy period of time.

Scar tissue begins to accumulate and take the place of healthy liver tissue. The scar tissue prevents the liver from functioning properly and inhibits the blood from flowing through it as it should.

Again this stage is still early enough for a possibility of recovery.

Cirrhosis

The liver becomes so overcome by fibrosis or scar tissue that it develops into the third stage, cirrhosis.

Often cirrhosis involves symptoms like excessive bruising and bleeding from gums and cuts. Also, bloating in the abdomen often occurs. Many experience itchy skin and eyes. Jaundice, a condition when the skin and eyes turn yellow, can occur. Finally, the toxins that have not been filtered by the liver can eventually affect the brain. It often causes difficulty with concentration, memory and sleep.

Unfortunately, in this stage the liver has become so damaged that it cannot be repaired to its original form. It may even eventually form into liver cancer.

Liver Failure

The final stage of liver disease is liver cancer or complete liver failure. When liver cancer is developed after cirrhosis, the liver has been slowly deteriorating for a lengthy amount of time.

Symptoms of liver failure include a loss of appetite sometimes due to nausea. Diarrhea is common at this stage as well. The combination of these three symptoms can result in malnutrition. Hallucinations both visual and auditory are also another symptom that liver failure patients experience.

Medication can sometimes sustain damaged livers; however, generally liver transplants are the only option for survival.

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