Acute Liver Failure- Its Warning Signs, Treatment, and Repercussions

What to Watch For with Acute Liver Failure

Acute liver failure is broad term for when the liver is unable to perform its tasks.  Also known as hepatic disease, it is a grave condition which the body will not be able to withstand for longer than a very short period of time.  Because the liver rarely gives out major warning sign unless we are really on the lookout for them, acute liver failure can seemingly come out of nowhere.

Some Common Causes of Liver Damage

The liver, being the incredible machine that it is, typically will keep working, albeit inefficiently, to keep us alive even when more than 75% of its tissues are affected by liver sickness.  It is crucial, therefore, that we listen to our body so as to spot the initial signs of liver failure and then with the help of your doctor have a plan of action.

Classic Symptoms of Acute Liver Failure

When acute liver failure does set in, some of the symptoms might be nausea and vomiting, jaundice and soreness in the upper right abdominal area.  This may be accompanied by fatigue and listlessness, but all of these symptoms might not necessarily show themselves.  When liver failure does set in, hepatic encephalopathy may take the person over.  This is a very grave state, because if the liver can’t do its job mental functioning may end.  Hepatic means “of the liver” and encephalopathy means “brain disorder”.

One of the main functions of a healthy liver is to remove toxins from the system.  If they are not properly removed they stay in the blood stream, eventually making their way into the organs and shutting them down.  With hepatic encephalopathy setting in, it means the toxins have moved into the brain, which will affect mental functioning.  This sets off a chain reaction of events, and if the person is not hospitalized it is unlikely they can survive.  This condition is usually brought on when the human liver suffers from cirrhosis or hepatitis.

On Diseases Of The Liver

First Symptoms of Acute Liver Failure

Obviously it’s in our best interests to understand the initial symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy and react as quickly as possible, not only for ourselves but if we see anyone who seems to be exhibiting these symptoms.  A few of the things to be aware of would be short attention span, difficulty with writing and talking, strange behavior patterns and mood swings and changes in character.

If the situation progresses, complete confusion and lack of orientation may come into play, followed by seizures and loss of consciousness may result.  These symptoms might look like excessive drunkenness, but if this is caused by liver issues medical attention must be immediate or it will result in almost certain death.

How acute liver failure is treated will depend on what is causing the liver distress.  Normally the reason for the ailment will not be easy to diagnose, and intensive care is usually required.  If the issue is an adverse reaction to medication or alcohol consumption, actions can be taken to reverse the consequences.  Infections may be able to be cured with medications.  When cirrhosis has taken over, if the situation hasn’t deteriorated too badly getting on a nutritious diet may get the liver back in working order.

If tests for liver damage reveal the liver is severely damaged, artificial liver support may be required to clean the blood.  When all else fails, a liver transplant may be required, but it is very expensive and you will be on a waiting list.  At the present time the short term rate of survival for a liver transplant is over 65%.


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