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Liver Failure Stages

Liver Failure Stages

When the liver fails to carry out its metabolic as well as synthetic functions, it is known as liver failure. This article briefly discusses the stages of this medical condition.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 16, 2018
Liver failure is a condition, wherein the parts of liver are damaged, and this causes decrease in the liver function. This is a dangerous condition that can turn out to be life-threatening. It requires medical attention to curb it when the condition is not so serious. There are four stages that occur over the years. Many people are under the impression that liver failure affects only those who are chronic alcoholics. However, this is not the case. It can occur when the liver is damaged due to a hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection. The symptoms may also occur due to overdose of medications, hereditary diseases like hemochromatosis, etc. When one consumes the wrong kind of food like mushrooms or ingests poison, it can also lead to liver damage. Liver is the only organ that undergoes wear and tear. However, years of abuse causes considerable damage, such that it is beyond repair.
Types
There are two forms that may affect a patient. These include acute and chronic liver failure. The former occurs within four weeks of developing the first signs. The early symptoms include jaundice, decrease in the production of albumin and blood-clotting proteins, etc. Chronic liver failure occurs over the years. This condition is caused by excessive alcohol intake, hepatitis B or C, increase in iron or copper levels, non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease, etc.
Stages
The stages occurs in a chronic condition. Over the years, the liver damage occurs in stages, and finally it can take no more and completely ceases to function.
Inflammation
This occurs due to the body's attempt to heal the damage on its own. The symptoms of liver inflammation include tenderness in the abdominal area and an enlarged liver. During the initial stages, the inflamed liver does get damaged. However, as the inflammation progresses, it leads to a long-lasting damage. Excessive alcohol intake or viral infection like hepatitis are the main reasons for inflammation. This condition is reversible with proper medical treatment and healthy lifestyle changes. The treatment and lifestyle change will help prevent permanent damage and progress to stage two.
Fibrosis
After inflammation, the next stage includes fibrosis. When the liver tissue is scarred due to a long period of inflammation, it leads to fibrosis. The healthy liver tissue is taken over by scarred tissue. This causes decrease in the liver function and does not allow proper blood flow through the organ. The remaining healthy tissue has to work overtime, and this causes further damage. This stage too is reversible, if one follows treatment, changes in diet, and avoids the consumption of alcohol.
Liver Cirrhosis
When the scar tissue can no longer repair itself, it is leads to liver cirrhosis. This is now a permanent and irreversible condition that leads to several complications. The liver cirrhosis symptoms include edema in the abdomen and legs, jaundice, easy bruising and bleeding, itchy skin, blood vessels bursting, sensitivity to medications, memory problems, and diabetes. The liver can no longer filter out the toxins and waste products from the blood. This causes the toxins to reach the brain and lead to brain damage. Cirrhosis is the stage where the liver is damaged to a great extent.
Liver Cancer
The end-stage liver disease is also known as complete liver failure, wherein cancer sets in due to cirrhosis. The liver has deteriorated gradually over time and led to liver cancer. The symptoms of liver cancer include loss of appetite, diarrhea, hallucinations (auditory and visual), etc. The hallucinations occur as the liver is no longer able to filter out the toxins and radicals from the blood. They begin to affect the brain, that causes imaginary sounds and visions to be experienced by the patient. The patient also suffers from extreme sleepiness, confusion, disorientation, and coma. Finally, this stage ends with death.
The early stages can be treated and the effects of damage reversed. However, long-term deterioration can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Nowadays, liver transplantation is the last hope for saving a life.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.