2 Liver failureIt’s the inability of the liver to perform its normal synthetic and metabolic function as part of normal physiology.Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that demands urgent medical care. Most often liver failure occurs gradually and over many years. However, a more rare condition known as acute liver failure occurs rapidly (in as little as 48 hours) and can be difficult to detect initially.
4 Acute Liver FailureDevelopment of hepatic encephalopathy (confusion, stupor and coma) and decreased production of proteins (such as albumin and blood clotting proteins) within four weeks of the first symptoms (such as jaundice) of a liver problem."Hyperacute" liver failure is said to be present if this interval is 7 days or less."subacute" liver failure is said to be present if the interval is 5-12 weeks.
5 Chronic liver failureUsually occurs in the context of cirrhosis, itself potentially the result of many possible causes, such as excessive alcohol intake, hepatitis B or C, autoimmune, hereditary and metabolic causes (such as iron or copper overload or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).
6 Hepatic Encephalopathy A syndrome observed in some patients with cirrhosis that’s marked by personality changes, intellectual impairment, and a depressed level of consciousness
7 What causes liver failure? The most common causes of liver failure are:Hepatitis BHepatitis CLong term, excessive alcohol consumptionCirrhosisHemochromatosisMalnutrition
8 The causes of acute liver failure, however, are often different The causes of acute liver failure, however, are often different. These include:Acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose - this is one of the most common causes of acute liver failureViruses including hepatitis A, B, and C (especially in children)Reactions to certain prescription medicationsIngestion of poisonous wild mushrooms
9 SymptomsThe initial symptoms of liver failure are often ones that can be due to any number or conditions. Because of this, liver failure may initially difficult to diagnose. Among these early symptoms are:NauseaLoss of appetiteFatigueDiarrhea
10 However, as liver failure progresses, the symptoms become more serious, indicating that urgent treatment is required. These symptoms include:JaundiceBleeding easilySwollen abdomenMental disorientation or confusion (known as hepatic encephalopathy)SleepinessComa
17 How is liver failure treated? If detected early enough, acute liver failure caused by an overdose of acetaminophen can sometimes be treated and its effects reversed.Likewise, if a virus causes liver failure, supportive care can be given at a hospital to treat the symptoms until the virus runs its course. In these cases, the liver can then sometimes recover on its own.For liver failure that is the result of long-term deterioration, the initial focus may be on saving whatever part of the liver is still functioning. If this is not possible, the only way to save a patient’s life is for him or her to receive a transplant. Fortunately, liver transplants are a common procedure that is often successful. Approximately 75 % of patients who receive a liver transplant survive more than 10 years.