The liver is a vital organ located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. It is responsible for many important functions in the body, including:
- Filtering and detoxifying blood: The liver filters toxins and waste products from the blood, and converts them into less harmful substances that can be eliminated from the body.
- Producing bile: The liver produces bile, a digestive fluid that helps to break down fats and absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
- Storing and releasing glucose: The liver stores glucose and releases it into the bloodstream as needed to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
- Producing proteins: The liver produces a number of important proteins, including blood clotting factors and immune system proteins.
- Metabolizing drugs and alcohol: The liver metabolizes drugs and alcohol, breaking them down into less harmful substances that can be eliminated from the body.
There are a number of conditions that can affect the liver, including:
- Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, usually caused by a viral infection.
- Cirrhosis: Scarring of the liver tissue, usually caused by long-term alcohol abuse or hepatitis.
- Fatty liver disease: A condition in which fat accumulates in the liver, usually caused by obesity or diabetes.
- Liver cancer: A type of cancer that can develop in the liver.
Symptoms of liver disease can vary depending on the underlying condition, but may include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
Treatment for liver disease depends on the underlying condition and severity of the disease. In some cases, medications and lifestyle changes may be enough to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. In more severe cases, a liver transplant may be necessary to replace the function of the damaged liver. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.