Acute Liver Failure: Q & A
October 1, 2019
Acute liver failure, a rare condition, when liver suddenly stops working. This generally happens right after an overdose of medicine or poisoning.
What causes acute liver failure?
Taking too much painkillers causes most cases of acute liver failure. Certain diseases can also cause acute liver failure, such as hepatitis and Wilson’s disease. In some cases, the cause for liver failure is unknown.
Who is at risk for acute liver failure?
The risk of acute liver failure increases with:
- Taking too much acetaminophen
- Having certain diseases or infections, such as hepatitis, Wilson’s disease, and herpes simplex virus
- Drinking a lot of alcohol
- Having poor blood flow to the liver
What are the symptoms of acute liver failure?
The most noticeable symptoms of acute liver failure include:
- Discomfort on the right side, just below the ribs
- Loss of appetite
- As the disease gets worse, patients may also become confused and very sleepy.
Other symptoms include:
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Vomiting blood
- Build-up of fluid in your belly (abdomen)
How is acute liver failure diagnosed?
Acute liver failure requires medical care right away. Doctorstake note of patient’s past health use of medicines or illegal drugs, and any possible exposure to toxins. Doctors may also check for signs of hepatitis, such as jaundice, fatigue, and abdominal pain.
What are the tests needed to diagnose Acute Liver Failure?
Some of the test to ascertain acute liver failure are:
- Tests for mental alertness
- Blood tests. These check liver enzymes and bilirubin levels. They also measure blood’s ability to thicken (coagulate). This is called prothrombin time.
- Imaging tests such as CT scan or MRI to check liver.
How is acute liver failure treated?
Treatment for acute liver failure depends on the underlying cause. If the cause is excessive painkillers, then the treatment is activated charcoal. Taking this will help the body lower how much medicine is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.
If viral hepatitis is the cause of acute liver failure, then the treatment depends on the type of hepatitis. In case of autoimmune hepatitis, treatment includes steroids.If the cause of acute liver failure in unknown, a liver biopsy is needed to get more information about the liver. If treatments are of no avail, then the next step in liver transplant.
What are possible complications of acute liver failure?
If you have acute liver failure, common complications are:
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Low blood sugar
- Swelling of the brain
- Abdominal swelling
- Abnormal bleeding
Can acute liver failure be prevented?
You can prevent some of the underlying causes of acute liver failure with the following:
- Do not take too many painkillers without doctor’s expert advice
- Stop drinking alcohol if you have a liver problem.
- Take hepatitis A and B vaccines.
Always Rela Hospital
RelaInsitute& Medical Centre has provided instant care for patients who have arrived with acute liver failure. We have always ensured that our patients are diagnosed and provided with treatment directed toward their specific concern. We also keep a track of our patients and their health history so that we can inform them under every medical liver adversity.
Liver pain can be felt in the upper part of the abdomen, on the right hand side. It can be a sign of a serious disease, so medical attention may be necessary.