Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Human Liver - Functions and Disorders

The liver is a vital organ in our body. It helps rid the body of toxins, and produces substances that aid in processes such as clotting. The liver also manufactures blood proteins that aid in oxygen transport, and immune system function. It stores excess nutrients and returns some to the bloodstream.

Liver disease can be caused by many things. Cirrohsis of the liver is a slow progressing disease that causes healthy tissue to be replaced by scar tissue. In this case, the liver will not function properly. The scar tissue can block the flow of blood through the it and can slow the process of processing nutrients and other things essential to our body.

Some of the causes of cirrhosis include Hepatitis C, fatty liver, and alcohol abuse. These are the most common. Other things can damage the organ including fatty liver associated with diabetes and obesity; chronic viral diseases. A bile duct being blocked can cause cirrhosis. The bile duct carries bile from the liver to the intestines where it helps with digestion of fats. The ducts may become inflamed or scarred which can lead to another liver disease known as primary biliary cirrhosis.

Bouts of heart failure can cause fluid to back up into the liver.

There are also disease that are inherited that can cause liver damage. One of them is cystic fibrosis; Alpha 1 trypsin deficiency can also cause it. Hemachromatosis is a condition in which excessive iron is absorbed and deposited into the liver and Wilson's disease caused by an abnormal storage of copper in the liver.

A less likely cause is reactions to prescription drugs can also cause damage to the liver, but this is unlikely.

People who drink large amounts of alcohol can harm their livers. But not all of them get cirrhosis of the liver. Women who drink heavily are at higher risk than men for this. People who get hepatitis are more likely to suffer liver damage than from alcohol.

Another kind of liver disease is autoimmune hepatitis. This means that the liver will turn on itself and be unable to function.

Polycystic liver disease is an inherited condition. It is characterized by cysts of various sizes that are scattered throughout the liver. Some abdominal discomfort from swelling of the liver may occur. Most people do not have symptoms. This kind of liver disease can occur randomly with no apparent cause. Most cases of this are inherited.

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