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I have come across lots of articles and case studies on liver diseases and the rapid health decline of most sufferers. So, I will like to share some of my knowledge of the liver and liver diseases. I will tell it like a story and cite where necessary. 
Before I start, what melted my heart the other day was when I met a very young girl who has undergone two liver transplants. In this girl’s case, her former transplant failed because her body system rejected the organ. The later transplant is pretty new and she complained of so much pain and discomfort. As I write this, my heart reaches to her, I wish her a speedy recovery and hope this is her last organ transplant. 
The liver is the second largest organ in the body and the biggest reservoir for blood. It serves as the body factory and plays lots of significant roles that are vital to life. The liver is located in the upper right side of the abdomen, beneath the diaphragm and on the top of the right kidney.
The main functions of the liver include;

  • Filtration and cleansing of the blood 
  • Fights against infections and diseases
  • Production of proteins that makes blood clot( i.e when you bleed)
  • Aids in digestion
  • Destroys and deals with poisons and drugs
  • Excretion of wastes.
There are lots of other roles the liver play in the body. It is a very powerful organ than we think. 

Onset of liver disease:- Acute- Whereby it happens over a short period of time

                                   -Chronic- Here, the disease manifests after couple of years e.g 5-8 years

Main causes: -Heavy alcohol consumption or alcohol misuse (the commonest)
                      -Undiagnosed hepatitis
                      -Obesity
Types of Liver diseases
-Alcohol related liver diseases- Liver damage occurs due to years of heavy alcohol consumption.
-Non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases-  
-Hepatitis- Inflammation of the liver
-Haemochromatosis i.e an inherited disorder whereby there is iron overload in the body
-Primary biliary cirrhosis
All these types of  liver diseases can cause scarring of the liver, which is called Cirrhosis (www.nhs.uk)

Pathophysiology
Photo credit: Youtube images
The liver responds to injury by becoming inflamed. Any form of inflammation of the liver is known as hepatitis. This can happen suddenly (acute) or over a long period of time (chronic). Repeated injuries cause the liver cell not to regenerate any more, fibrosis gradually forms.
When the fibrosis spreads out due to persistent harm not been addressed, the liver shape and function is disrupted.and is known as compensated cirrhosis. As damage progresses, the liver is unable to function effectively (decompensated) and begins to fail. This stage is termed end stage liver disease this allows toxic chemicals and wastes to build up in the body causing  jaundice, ascites and hepatic encephalopathy (i.e. a brain disorder due to toxins in the brain). Further deterioration may lead to multiple organ failure and death. 
Signs and Symptoms:
It is important to know that liver diseases can go on for a long time before the clinical manifestations sets in. They include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss or sudden weight gain 
  • Jaundice i.e yellowing of the skin
  • Itchy skin and bruises
  • Fluid retention (oedema)
  • Brownish or orange tint in the urine
  • Light coloured stools
  • Confusion, disorientation, personality changes
Treatment and Management  
This can achieved mainly the use of drugs or surgery
Diet control; Avoiding too much or little protein.
Drugs:-Lactulose;This works by changing the stool acidity which prevents bacterial growth and reduces                    ammonia production.
            -Neomycin; An antibiotic which kills intestinal bacteria and minimises ammonia production.
            -Rifaxiimin; An antibiotic used in reducing the recurrence of hepatic encephalopathy.
SurgeryParacentesis: This is the removal of fluid that has accumulated in the liver due to ascites
                 –Liver transplant: This occurs in cases where liver transplant is inevitable.

Prevention
The commonest type of liver diseases is the Alcohol liver disease, which means we can make liver diseases unpopular.
  • Avoidance or minimal alcohol intake (you need to know your limit: Ask)
  • Diet: reduced protein intake is advised to minimise ammonia(waste) production
  • Exercise- This is good for you to stay fit. Being overweight or obese can affect the progress or treatment your liver condition. Thus, avoid sendatary lifestyles.
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
  • Health education about liver and causes of liver disease: Equip yourself by reading or watching videos or discussing with health professional about the liver.
References: 
British Liver Trust, 2014
http://stemcellfoundation.ca/en/diseases/liver-failure
www.nhs.uk, 2014

Disclaimer: This cannot substitute for a professional medical advice and treatment. Research further and seek help when need be.

P.S. It’s quite a lengthy post. Thanks for your time😄

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