Thursday, March 10, 2011

How liver performs in body?

The liver is the main organ which performs numerous functions for every system to keep going inside the body. The liver can regenerate itself when damaged.
The liver is a reddish-brown mass of 1.36kg weight, the largest internal organ in the human body. It is located under the diaphragm, in the right upper quadrant of the abdominal cavity. Because it can keep growing, a healthy person can donate half of his liver to someone who needs it. Even with half or a third of it removed, the liver can grow to its full size again with time.
But, there are limits to how much it can regenerate. Viral infections and poor dietary and lifestyle habits can cause liver damage and possibly lead to hardening called cirrhosis.

Breaking things down

The liver is like the main factory, producing important products and by-products, processing inputs and getting rid of unwanted toxins. It produces proteins such as albumin, clotting factors, enzymes, antibodies and bile, a digestive juice required to break down fats and eliminate waste. On top of that, it metabolises lipids, carbohydrates and proteins. As proteins are broken down, a toxin called ammonia is released and converted to urea, which is then excreted by the kidneys in urine. The liver also breaks down medicines, herbal supplements, alcohol, industrial and food processing chemicals and hormones, such as insulin, estrogen and adrenalin, after they have served their function as messengers to other cells.

Storage space

The liver also converts lactic acid from a toxin to storage fuels like pyruvate or glucose for energy generation. When glucose is broken down, lactic acid is produced and too much of it may irritate nerves and muscles. The liver serves as a storeroom for certain vitamins A, B12 and D, and trace elements like copper and iron. Infections from viruses, fat deposits in the liver and alcohol can cause the liver to malfunction, resulting in liver diseases.

Organ damage

Viral illnesses such as hepatitis B & C are spread by blood and body fluids, while hepatitis A can be contracted by eating contaminated shellfish or cockles. The viruses cause the liver to become inflamed, damaging liver cells, which leak higher than normal amounts of liver enzymes into bloodstream. Chronic liver inflammation may lead to liver fibrosis (scarring), followed by cirrhosis (hardening from scar tissue) and liver failure or liver cancer.
Usually, people with hepatitis A can recover fully and it rarely causes liver failure. But hepatitis B or C increases the risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Antiviral medications can control the disease by reducing liver inflammation and viral replication.
Poor diet and excessive alcoholic consumption can lead to fatty liver disease. Symptoms include lethargy, jaundice (a yellowing of eyes and skin), dark brown urine, mental confusion, easy bruising and coma. In many cases, the liver can recover by anti-viral medication and the changes in diet & lifestyle habits.

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