Liver Functions

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Liver

Liver

digestive system.jpgVery few people understand liver function or even know where the liver is located until they experience pain and are told by their doctor they are having a gall bladder attack.  Understanding the function of the liver and what symptoms might be a result of a sluggish liver can be very important to the person who wishes to have the knowledge necessary to maintain their health.  

The Liver
The liver is the body’s largest internal organ and one of the most important, It is roughly the size of a football and located in the upper-right portion of the abdominal cavity, directly below the diaphragm and on top of the intestines, right kidney and stomach.

The liver is as a complicated and complex chemical factory that is open for business 24 hours a day and is heavily involved in almost everything the body processes. What you eat, drink, breathe, rub on your skin is all processed by your liver, and that is just some of its many hundreds of functions.

Liver lobes.jpgA healthy  liver :
  • Regulates the composition of blood, including the amounts of sugar (glucose), protein, and fat that enter the bloodstream.
  • Removes bilirubin, ammonia, and other toxins from the blood. (Bilirubin is a by-product of the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells.)
  • Processes most of the nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion and converts those nutrients into forms that can be used by the body. The liver also stores some nutrients, such as vitamin A, iron, copper, B12 and other minerals and vitamins.
  • Produces red blood cells, responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body.
  • Produces cholesterol and certain important proteins, such as albumin.
  • Produces clotting factors, chemicals needed to help blood clot.
  • Breaks down (metabolizes) alcohol and many drugs.
 
The liver is one of the most important organs when it comes to detoxifying the body.  It detoxifies harmful substances by a complex series of chemical reactions involving enzymes.  The role of these various enzymes in the liver is to convert fat soluble toxins into water soluble substances when then can be excreted through the urine or bile. 
graphic-fatty-liver.jpg
Many toxic chemicals entering the body are fat-soluble, requiring fatty or oily solutions to dissolve, not water, making them  difficult to excrete.  Fat soluble chemicals have an affinity for fat tissues and cell membranes, allowing them to be stored for years until being released through exercise, stress or fasting.   Unfortunately few people have a healthy liver in today's polluted environment, resulting in a fatty liver filled with toxins. 

Liver dysfunction can be inherited (genetic) or caused by a variety of factors that damage the liver, such as viruses and alcohol use. Obesity is also associated with a fatty liver or liver damage. Over time, damage to the liver results in scarring (cirrhosis), which can lead to liver failure.


Symptoms of a toxic liver can include any or all of the following:  

1. Fatigue

Fatigue is hands down the most frequently experienced symptom in sufferers of liver disease and liver damage. It is important to note that a feeling of over and unwanted tiredness and fatigue can manifest itself not just physically, but mentally as well.  Fatigue is a symptom associated with many ailments, including diabetes, heart disease and thyroid disease; so if experienced frequently, it is important to speak to your health-care professional.

2. Low Platelets

Platelets are minute, colorless disk-shaped cell fragments that are normally found in high abundance in the blood stream and is one of the main components in clotting. Many sufferers of liver damage are affected by low platelet levels, also known as Thrombocytopenia. While Thrombocytopenia is a serious condition, it can often be a key indicator when it comes to diagnosing liver disease and damage as these results are found through blood work.

 3. Nausea

Nausea is described as the sensation of an urge to vomit and most people are all to familiar with it and its unpleasantness. Nausea can be short-lived or prolonged, and in the latter it can prove quite debilitating. There are many causes of nausea, from mental to physical, but in the case of liver damage, it most often occurs due to the lack of function on the part of the liver. Along with a feeling of lethargy and fatigue, nausea is one of the first symptoms of liver damage.

4. Edema

Edema is a fancy, medical way of characterizing a condition in which an excess of liquid collects in the various tissues and cavities of the body - or to put it simply, swelling. 

When this swelling is the result of liver damage, it most commonly accumulates in the abdominal cavity, and in the legs.

5. J​aundice

This medical condition is normally associated with newborn babies (Hyperbilirubinemia), and is normally depicted as a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes which is the direct result of an excess of the yellowish pigment bilirubin. In newborns this usually treated by putting the child under a special lamp, but unfortunately when this condition affects adults, it is usually more serious and a strong indicator of liver damage. Normally, the liver breaks down the bilirubin, but when a liver isn't functioning properly, it is unable to do so.

6. Bru​ising Easily

While most people don’t make the connection, the fact remains that being prone to bruise particularly easily is, in fact, a type of blood disorder - and blood disorders are very common in people afflicted with liver disease or damage. 

Bruising is the result of your blood not clotting properly and as mentioned early, when a person has a low platelet count or Thrombocytopenia, this is often the result. If you begin to notice bruises or cuts on your body that you cannot easily explain or attribute to their origin, it might be prudent to make an appointment and speak to your health-care professional.

7. Swollen Spleen

The spleen sits in the upper left corner of your abdomen behind the rib cages and is part of the lymph system that works as a drainage network in order to combat infection. While most of us don’t think about our spleen daily, it is still important to make a note if things aren’t working accordingly. Signs of a swollen or enlarged spleen include indigestion, weightless, pain and tenderness in the surrounding area and pain that has spread to the left shoulder.

8. Sto​mach Pains

This is the symptom that seems to get invited to all the parties, at least the ones in the abdomen. Very often when one organ in the abdominal area is inflamed, damaged, or diseased, it can affect the surrounding organs in many ways. Firstly, due to its lack of function as most organs in the body work with one another to perform a greater function, mainly living. Also, it due to swelling of the infected organ, it can also give the impression and sensation of pain to many of the surrounding areas.

9. Diarrhea
Another of the first symptoms associated with liver damage, and in fact, most ailments that impact the digestive system. The liver is responsible for breaking down and processing most everything ingested or absorbed into our bodies, so it only begs to reason that when it isn’t functioning properly, are system might respond negatively to some of the more unfavorable materials that get through.

10. Loss of Appetite

Many doctors argue that a loss of appetite is just as much a psychological symptom as a physical one, especially when it comes to liver damage. With an improperly functioning liver, the entire process of digestion becomes difficult, strained and unpleasant. This often results in the brain sending signals to the body that it is, in fact, not hungry in order to spare itself the pain and discomfort that eating has caused up until that point. 

While I hope you found the information found here to be helpful and informative, it is important to remember that this should not be substituted for proper medical advice. If you or someone you know is suffering from these symptoms, then please contact  your health professional for further information and help.
 
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