The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in a person's body. It is about the size of a football and weighs about 3 pounds in the average-sized person. The liver is located on the upper right side of a person's body, behind the lower ribs.
Almost all the blood in a person's body passes through the liver. The liver performs hundreds of functions, including storing nutrients, removing waste products and worn-out cells from the blood, filtering and processing chemicals in food, alcohol and medications, and producing bile, a solution that helps digest fats and eliminate waste products.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver can become inflamed when it is trying to manage stress such as from alcohol, toxins, or infection.
When the liver is under stress due to repeated exposure to toxins such as alcohol, or because of infection with chronic hepatitis B or C, the liver tissue can become damaged.
The liver is a very strong and remarkable organ because it can tolerate a lot of stress without any signs or symptoms and it can heal in some cases. However, if the stress is severe or goes on for a long period of time the liver tissue can become permanently damaged or scarred, and the liver functions
slowly begin to shut down.
Common causes of chronic liver disease in the United States include hepatitis B & C and long-term alcohol abuse. Other common causes are fatty liver, certain medications or metabolic disorders.
Symptoms of Hepatitis or Liver Damage or Disease
Symptoms of liver damage or liver disease may develop gradually or there may be no symptoms, which is why having a Hepatitis test is important if you think you may have been exposed. When symptoms do occur, they can include:
- flu-like symptoms
- pain or tenderness under lower right rib
- dark urine or light colored stool
- yellow color in the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes (jaundice)
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Cirrhosis of the Liver
Cirrhosis is a term that is used to describe severe damage or scarring of the liver which leads to poor liver function and serious health risks including liver failure and death.
It is the final phase of chronic liver disease.
Common cause of chronic liver disease in the United States include hepatitis C and long-term alcohol abuse. Other causes can be hepatitis B, certain medications or metabolic disorders. Symptoms may develop gradually or there may be no symptoms.
Last Updated: January 12, 2012