Liver is an important organ of the body and performs several essential functions. The primary function of the liver is to purify the blood and aid in removal of various toxins from the blood. Secondly liver plays a crucial role in generating bile salts which are important for digestion of fats and other fat soluble vitamins.
Further, the liver plays a crucial role in production of proteins which are important for producing clotting compounds and also plays a vital role in storing essential nutrients and vitamins.
Four Stages Of Liver Failure
There are no specific set of symptoms that can be indicative of a liver failure.
The symptoms usually develop as the disease progresses. However the symptoms may often overlap between stages. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to aid the liver in healing and tends to prevent progression of the disease.
Liver disease stages can be broadly categorized into four different categories,
- Inflammation: This is the first stage of liver disease.
- Fibrosis: This stage is characterized by formation of scar tissue which reduces the functionality of the liver.
- Cirrhosis: Excessive fibrosis further prevents the liver from healing itself.
- End Stage Liver Failure: This stage is associated with complete failure of liver functions and is a medical emergency.
Stages Of Liver Disease And Symptoms
- Inflammation is observed during the first phase of liver damage. Following liver injury, the body’s own immune system attempts to heal the injury, which in turn results in inflammation. During this stage no specific symptoms are observed, however the patient may complain of slight tenderness and discomfort. Early treatment of inflammation can hasten recovery and halt the progress of the disease.
- Fibrosis is the next stage of liver damage. If the first stage is not treated promptly, it may result in fibrosis or scarring of the liver tissue. Scarred liver tissue can’t perform like healthy liver tissue which results in reduced functional ability of the liver. This stage is also not characterized by any major symptoms.
- Cirrhosis is the third stage of liver damage. When inflammation persists and is not treated, scarring of the liver tissue continues, which in turns reduces the amount of healthy tissue in the liver. When the scarred tissue in the liver increases, the functional capacity of the liver reduces drastically and results in an overload on the healthy tissue. If this stage is not treated promptly it can result in liver failure. This condition may be characterized by some gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
- Liver Failure is the final stage of liver damage. This condition requires immediate medical treatment and if not treated it can further degrade and result in coma or death.
Symptoms Of Liver Failure
Though usually symptoms associated with liver damage are not noticeable, there are certain symptoms which can be indicative of liver dysfunction. These symptoms observed during the initial phases of liver damage include.
- Nausea, vomiting along with reduced appetite.
- Edema in the extremities, especially the feet and legs.
- Jaundice which is associated with yellowish pigmentation of skin, sclera and the nails along with severe itching.
As the condition advances other symptoms like bleeding from rectum, vomiting blood, bleeding gums along with insomnia, confusion, forgetfulness and disorientation may be experienced.