Liver Problems Causes, Symptoms & Management


liver problems causes

The liver has a crucial role in keeping us healthy. It is responsible for filtering out toxins and turning nutrients into chemicals that our body needs. This is done by turning food into energy. Therefore, when our liver does not work well, it can affect our whole body. Different factors can cause liver problems and thus it is important to have an idea of the primary liver problems causes. Read along to know these:

Liver Problems Causes 


Viruses and parasites can infect the liver thereby causing inflammation that affects your liver function. The viruses that cause different liver problems spread through contaminated food or water, blood or close contact with an infected person (Ginès, P., Krag, A., Abraldes, J.G., Solà, E., Fabrellas, N. and Kamath, P.S., 2021. Liver cirrhosis. The Lancet, 398(10308), pp.1359-1376).

Abnormalities in the immune system

Diseases wherein the immune system of a person attacks certain parts of his own body can affect the liver adversely. Some of the most common examples of such autoimmune liver diseases are primary biliary cholangitis, autoimmune hepatitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis. 


Abnormal genes inherited from parents may cause different substances to build up inside the liver, which may in turn lead to liver damage. Some of such genetic liver diseases include Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis. 

Additional causes

Some of the other common liver problems causes may include chronic alcohol abuse, certain prescription and over-the-counter medications and fat accumulation in the liver (Wiegand, J. and Berg, T., 2013. The etiology, diagnosis and prevention of liver cirrhosis: part 1 of a series on liver cirrhosis. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 110(6), p.85). 

Some of the most common risk factors that may increase a person’s risk of liver problems include the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heave alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Injecting drugs using shared needles
  • Exposure to other people’s body fluids and blood 
  • Family history of liver problems
  • Unprotected sex
  • Exposure to certain toxins and chemicals

Symptoms of Liver Problems 

Liver problems do not always cause noticeable symptoms. However, when they do, some of the more common symptoms may include the following:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Yellowish skin and eyes
  • Swelling in the ankles and legs
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine color
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Pale stool color
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Tendency to get bruises easily 
  • Loss of appetite

Management of Liver Problems 

The first step to manage liver problems is to find the exact cause and extent of liver damage. Doctors are most likely to start with a health history and an extensive physical examination. Thereafter, the following may be recommended:

Blood tests

A group of blood tests known as liver function tests can be recommended to diagnose the liver problem. Other blood tests can also be done for looking for specific genetic conditions or liver problems.

Checking tissue samples

The process of removing a tissue sample from the liver may be helpful in diagnosing liver disease and examining signs of liver damage (Ratziu, V., Charlotte, F., Heurtier, A., Gombert, S., Giral, P., Bruckert, E., Grimaldi, A., Capron, F., Poynard, T. and LIDO Study Group, 2005. Sampling variability of liver biopsy in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Gastroenterology, 128(7), pp.1898-1906). Liver biopsies are most often done using long needles that are inserted into the skin to extract a tissue sample which are then sent to laboratories for testing. 

The treatment and management of liver problems depend on the patient’s diagnosis. In many cases, liver problems can be managed and treated with different lifestyle modifications. These may include losing weight, stopping alcohol usage and following a careful monitoring of the liver function. On the other hand, for other liver problems, treatments are most likely to include medication or even surgery. Treatment for a liver disease that has caused liver failure may ultimately indicate the need to undergo a liver transplant. 


  Can liver damage be reversed?  

Depending on the type and severity of liver damage, complete healing can take weeks and even months. However, in many cases, liver damage cannot be reversed. This is especially true for cases where liver damage is extensive and has been long-term.

  What are some of the best vegetables for liver health?  

Some of the best vegetables for liver health are cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts.


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