The liver is one of most important organs of our body and is located in the abdomen on the right side below diaphragm. The liver is responsible for a large number of processes which are related to other organs. The liver is centre of metabolism but also a place of production of many important substances, e.g. certain blood components. Some substances are stored in the liver, and other are removed from the blood stream and away from body. Liver diseases are mainly caused by infections, exposure to toxic substances such as alcohol or drug use, impaired blood supply of the tissues, enzyme defects and tumors.
Manifestations of liver disease
Even mere 20% of the liver is able to perform essential functions to adequately cover the needs of whole body. Therefore, the liver has an important functional reserve and in addition to it considerable ability to regenerate, meaning that the liver can replace its damaged cells with healthy ones. In case of increased load can this organ adapt to certain extent. However, if it exceeds the acceptable level cellular processes begin to fail. One of the major symptoms of liver disease is jaundice. It is a yellowing of the skin, eye sclera and mucous membrane of the oral cavity. Jaundice can occur in all liver diseases but also in diseases that do not impair the liver. Jaundice is caused by increased level of bilirubin in the blood of 100% to 200% against normal values. Bilirubin is a bile pigment originating from the dissolution of heme, i.e. a pigment of red blood cells. To other symptoms of liver disease are generally sorted fatigue, weight loss, nausea, bloating, fluid retention, increased bleeding, skin changes, changes in brain function and more. As a result of fluid retention occurs development of the edema of lower extremities and accumulation of the fluid in abdominal cavity, professionally ascites.
Types of liver diseases
Liver diseases may be acute or chronic. Acute diseases often disappear spontaneously within few days, but the disadvantage is that the clinical symptoms that would alert to this disease occurs on very low rate. Therefore, in the most cases is diagnosed liver disease in chronic stage.
Viral hepatitis is inflammatory liver disease caused by various viruses. We distinguish viral hepatitis A to G but the most common types are hepatitis A, B and C. Their occurrence is very high worldwide.
- Viral hepatitis A is the least severe type of the inflammations of liver because there's only an acute form and it almost always heals spontaneously. Hepatitis A is transmitted by dirty hands, contaminated food and water. During the treatment is necessary to follow a diet, avoid alcohol and physical activity.
- Viral hepatitis B is more serious disease that can occur in acute or chronic form. It is transmitted by blood, sexual intercourse, saliva and contaminated needles. Therefore, drug addicts are vulnerable. Viral hepatitis B often arises from untreated acute form and the danger is in that it passes to liver cirrhosis, and this can often lead to development of malign liver tumor.
- Viral hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, sexual intercourse and transmission from mother to fetus. It may be in acute, asymptomatic form, but it is indicated that up to 85% of cases are chronic. Viral hepatitis C often passes into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Development of liver cirrhosis occurs after long-term impairment of liver tissue, usually either due to presence of the viruses mentioned above or prolonged excessive alcohol intake. Cirrhosis is usually preceded by fatty liver which cause metabolic malfunction of the liver cells. This condition is compared to cirrhosis still reversible. Liver cirrhosis is reconstruction of the liver tissue when liver cells die and are replaced by fibrous tissue that can not replace the function of liver cells. So this is how gradual failure of liver functions occur. Presence of cirrhosis can often lead to development of liver cancer.
Hereditary liver disease
Some hereditary diseases of the liver in which is broken metabolism of bilirubin in liver cells lead to truly significant increase in levels of this substance in the blood. However, their severity is very different. These include Gilbert, Crigler-Najjar syndrome or Dubin-Johnson syndrome. Not very good prognosis have very rare diseases, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease. In the first case, is in the tissues of body and also in the liver stored excessive amount of iron, and in the latter is accumulated copper. These substances have an adverse effect on liver functions as they are harmful to the liver.
Liver tumors are unfortunately not uncommon. Malign tumors even occupy fifth place among all malignancies worldwide. Liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma professionally, develops up to 80% on the basis of liver cirrhosis. In the liver cells occur changes of genetic information and also changes in their behavior. Tumor cells begin to multiply and grow uncontrollably and thereby they kill healthy cells. Unfortunately, liver tumor is diagnosed when it comes to liver failure, ascites, jaundice or anemia. The prognosis of this disease is very poor, with survival rates of few months.
Prognosis of liver diseases
The most serious problem from all of the liver diseases is liver malfunction. This is condition in which comes to significant impairment of the liver functions especially in origin of blood proteins, clotting factors and elimination of toxic substances from the body. In some cases, the liver failure may occur very rapidly but sometimes is its development rather slow. Therefore, all liver diseases need to be treated very carefully from the beginning and we should try to prevent the liver failure. Nowadays, is not the treatment always successful. Malign tumor of liver has the worst prognosis.