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Liver

Centre of Excellence
About Your Liver

Introduction on Liver and its Functions
Weighing in at a little over one kilogram, your liver is a complex chemical factory that works 24 hours a day. Liver is the largest internal organ of the body and is also the largest gland of the body. It processes virtually everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin; in fact, the liver performs over 500 functions that are vital to life. Every day, your liver helps your body by providing it with energy, fighting off infections and toxins, helping clot the blood, regulating hormones and much, much more.

To give you an idea of your liver’s critical roles, here is a partial list of its functions:

  • Cleanses your blood: Metabolizing alcohol and other drugs and chemicals, neutralizing and destroying poisonous substances.
  • Regulates your supply of body fuel: It producing, storing and exporting fat and glucose. Glucose and fat are the major fuels for the body.
  • Manufactures many essential body proteins involved in: Transporting substances in your blood, clotting of your blood, and providing resistance to infections.
  • Regulates the balance of hormones: Including sex hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisone and other adrenal hormones.
  • Regulates your body’s cholesterol: Producing cholesterol, excreting it and converting it to other essential substances.
  • Regulates your supply of essential vitamins and minerals: Including iron and copper.
  • Produces bile: Aiding with digestion of fatty food.
Signs and symptoms of Liver disease

Unfortunately, Liver damage does not show any explicit symptoms unless liver has been damaged to a great degree. There may be malaise, body ache, weight loss, anorexia, upper abdominal pain and other non-specific symptoms.

Normal liver is soft and smooth. As the liver damage increases, it tends to becomes hard with irregular surface, progressing from fibrosis to cirrhosis of liver. Functionally what it means is that the liver has failed to cope of with the functions it is supposed to carry out. Liver cirrhosis can also progress to cancers of liver. If the disease is not controlled, the complications of cirrhosis begin to develop. Once someone starts developing the complications, liver is already damaged and the injury has reached the point of no return.

The usual complication that can occur are :

  • Yellowish discoloration of skin and eyes - Jaundice
  • Altered behavior - Hepatic Encephalopathy
  • Swelling on your feet - Oedema
  • Accumulation of fluid in your tummy - Ascites
  • Blood in vomitus - Hematemesis
  • Blood in stools - Malena
When to see us?

If you experience any of the above symptoms, you must visit a doctor at the earliest. Since many times liver diseases go unnoticed for the lack of obvious symptoms, you should get yourself checked periodically, especially if you think you have been exposed to certain risk factors that can harm the liver (hyperlinked to ‘what causes harm to liver’). Those who have type II diabetes or are obese are at an increased risk for developing liver diseases (even if they do not consume alcohol).

We have designed a comprehensive Liver Wellness Package for that purpose which you may avail on any working day.

How are Liver diseases diagnosed?

Diagnosis of liver disease along with its cause is made based on a details history taking, physical examination and by running a couple of tests (blood tests, invasive diagnostics and imaging studies)

Liver Function Tests :These are blood tests used to determine the health of your liver and your bile ducts. Along with history and physical examination, these tests guide your doctor in the diagnosis and management of your liver disease. These tests measure the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in your blood which indicate how well the liver is performing its functions. Abnormal liver test results don’t always indicate liver disease.

Endoscopy :The use of fibre-optic endoscopy has greatly facilitated the management of all patients with chronic liver disease. Upper GI (Stomach and intestine) endoscopy plays a pivotal role in the diagnosis and management of upper GI bleeding complications that can happen in patients with chronic liver diseases. Endoscopic ultrasound/ sonography (EUS) is increasingly being used to detect bleeding and in the staging of tumours. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) plays an important role in the diagnosis of recurrent bile duct issues.

Liver Biopsy :It is a diagnostic procedure where one obtains a small amount of liver tissue which is then examined under a microscope to determine what is causing the liver disease and the degree of damage (scarring) of the liver. This test is rarely performed and has very specific indications.

What causes harm to the liver?

There are many ways a liver can get damaged. Following are some of the commonest causes of avoidable liver injury :

We can insert a graphic showing - Alcohol, Fatty food, Viral hepatitis (contaminated food and water, unsafe sexual practices, needle sharing in drug abuse), and drug induced (painkillers, some alternative medicines like Chinese/ herbal products/ detox supplements, exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins etc.)

Besides,certain immune system abnormalities can affect your liver.Some examples of such diseases are :

  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis

In some patients, liver damage is attributed to an abnormal gene inherited from one or both of your parents. These include:

  • Hemochromatosis
  • Hyperoxaluria and oxalosis
  • Wilson's disease
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
Beverage Approximate alcohol content (w/v) Serving size Daily intake that exceeds threshold for Alcoholic Liver Disease
Men Women
Beer 5% 350 ml 3 cans 1.5 cans
Wine 12% 145 ml 3 glasses 1.5 glasses
Hard liquor 40% 45 ml 3 drinks 1.5 drinks

Lifestyle Modification - Healthy lifestyle can go a long in protecting not just your liver but other organ systems as well. Consumption of highly saturated fatty foods and no exercise can cause a variety of health problems, one of which nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. People who are obese and have type II diabetes as are especially high risk of developing it.

Safe practices - If you are using illicit intravenous drugs, don't share needles used to inject drugs. Use a condom for sex. If you want to get tattoos or body piercings, make sure the shop maintains utmost cleanliness and follows safe practices.

Vaccination - Irrespective of your occupation, lifestyle, everyone must get vaccinated for Hepatitis B. Talk to your doctor at the earliest about getting vaccine and make sure you complete the course.

Appropriate medications use - Take prescription and nonprescription drugs only when needed and only in recommended doses and duration. Do not mix medications and alcohol. Talk to your doctor before taking any pain killers, herbal supplements or detox products.

Protect your skin - When using insecticides and other toxic chemicals, wear gloves and a mask.

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Contact Address

Zydus Hospitals Road,
Nr. Sola Bridge, S.G. Highway,
Ahmedabad - 380054,
Gujarat, India.