Liver failure is a condition when most of the liver is damaged so that it cannot perform its functions properly . This condition can occur gradually over years or occur suddenly. Liver failure must be treated immediately because of the risk of causing death .
The liver has a number of important functions, including removing toxins from the body, helping the blood clotting process, and helping the body fight infection. A person will be in serious condition if a number of these functions do not work normally or are disturbed .
Liver failure is generally characterized by yellowing of the eyes and skin, and a swollen abdomen due to fluid accumulation. The causes of liver failure are very diverse, but the most common are viral hepatitis infection, excessive alcohol consumption, and paracetamol drug overdose .
Causes of Liver Failure
Liver failure is caused by damage to the cells in the liver. The damage can occur suddenly or develop over a long period of time. Some of the factors that can cause liver failure are:
- Viral infections, especially hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C , hepatitis E
- Cancer, whether it starts in the liver or starts from other parts of the body then spreads to the liver
- Excessive use of paracetamol
- Consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anticonvulsants, and herbal medicines
- Alcohol addiction
- Drug abuse
- Exposure to toxins, eg carbon tetrachloride
- The immune system attacks the body itself (autoimmune hepatitis)
- Diseases of the blood vessels in the liver, such as Budd-Chiari syndrome
- Metabolic disorders, eg Wilson's disease
- The body's reaction to severe infection ( sepsis )
- Other diseases, such as blockage of blood vessels in the liver, iron accumulation in the body, fructose intolerance, Reye 's syndrome , and galactosemia
Symptoms of Liver Failure
Early symptoms of liver failure tend to be mild and similar to those of other conditions, including upper abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite. If the condition of the liver worsens, more serious symptoms will appear. Symptoms of advanced liver failure include:
- Easy bruising and bleeding
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Accumulation of fluid in the stomach
- Vomiting blood or bloody stools (black in color)
- Foggy consciousness and muddled speech
When to see a doctor
If you are at risk of developing hepatitis or have never received a hepatitis vaccine, immediately consult a doctor. The doctor will explain the importance of getting the vaccine.
Patients with prolonged viral infections, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or who are alcoholics, consult a gastroenterohepatologist regarding ways to prevent further liver damage.
Through regular check-ups, doctors can detect liver damage early so that action can be given more quickly to prevent further damage. Treatment should be done immediately if patients with liver failure experience symptoms of advanced liver failure.
Diagnosis of Liver Failure
To determine liver failure, the doctor will ask the patient about drug consumption, consumption of alcoholic beverages and drug use, as well as a history of the disease.
Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination to detect signs of liver failure, such as a swollen stomach, pain in the upper right abdomen, and yellowing of the eyes and skin.
There are several additional tests that the doctor will perform to diagnose liver failure, including:
Liver function test
Liver function tests are performed to determine the ability of liver function, by examining the patient's blood sample. Through a patient's blood sample, doctors can find out the levels of enzymes and proteins produced by the liver, including levels of bilirubin, which makes the skin yellow.
In addition to liver function tests, blood tests can also be done to see when blood clots become abnormal when liver failure occurs.
Scan and biopsy
The doctor can do a scan with ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, to see the structure of the liver. In some cases, the doctor will also take tissue samples (biopsy) in the patient's liver, to find out the cause of the damage.
Liver Failure Treatment
Liver organs that are damaged to cause liver failure can return to normal, but maybe not. For example, liver failure due to an overdose of paracetamol can usually return to normal.
If the damage to the liver is severe enough and its function cannot return to normal, as in cirrhosis, treatment aims to save the part of the liver that is still healthy. If this is not possible, the patient's liver needs to be replaced with a healthy liver from a donor. This procedure is called a liver transplant .
There is no specific method for dealing with liver failure. The treatment given is only aimed at maintaining the stability of the body's condition so that the liver can return to normal function. These include:
- Infusion to maintain normal blood pressure
- Blood transfusion in case of bleeding
- Laxatives to remove toxins from the body
- Inject sugar when blood sugar levels drop
To maintain a healthy part of the liver, the doctor will advise the patient to do the following:
- Avoid taking drugs without advice from a doctor
- Do not consume alcoholic beverages
- Limit consumption of red meat, cheese and eggs
- Reducing salt consumption in the diet
- Maintain normal blood sugar and blood pressure
- Maintain an ideal weight
Liver Failure Complications
Liver failure can lead to a number of serious conditions, such as:
- Bleeding due to deficiency of blood clotting factors
- Swelling of the brain due to accumulation of fluid in the brain
- Kidney failure
- Easy to get infected
Liver Failure Prevention
Liver failure can be prevented by preventing liver or liver disease . Ways that can be done include:
- Get hepatitis vaccination, namely hepatitis A vaccine or hepatitis B vaccine
- Do not share personal items, such as razors
- Stop using drugs , let alone sharing needles
- Practice safe sex, namely not having multiple partners and using condoms
- Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Do not take paracetamol more than the recommended dose
- Using herbal medicine safely
- Maintain ideal body weight and exercise regularly
- Wash hands before eating and after going to the toilet
- Use personal protective equipment at work to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals