One of the most important organs in the human body is the liver. The liver filters out impurities in the blood, which then turns to waste in the form of urine and faeces. The human body cannot function without the liver. Liver disease, which is caused by various things, will cause the liver to become enlarged and patients will notice obvious physical effects of the body.
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A diagnosis of liver disease will be determined by the physician with the use of blood tests, CAT scans or ultrasounds. Liver enzymes, which are determined by a blood test, will be elevated and the liver will look enlarged on CAT scans and ultrasounds. Alcoholism, hepatitis, some prescription medicines, tumours and diet are a few of the most common reasons for liver disease. Depending on the stage of liver disease, outward signs or effects of liver disease can be evident.
Patients with liver disease will see an increase in stomach size. This is caused by fluids backing up in the abdominal cavity as the diseased liver slows the filtration process. At the same time, feet, hands and face can also become swollen.
The overall skin tone of a patient with liver disease will become yellow, and the whites of the eyes can become yellow. This results from the build-up of bilirubin levels in the blood. However, not all liver disease patients will see this jaundice.
Liver disease patients will see a marked increase in confusion, disorientation, sleepiness and a lessening of brain function. This is due to the toxins building up in the blood and settling in the brain. Patients will forget names, have short-term memory loss, be confused about time frames and can become disoriented even in familiar surroundings. Liver disease patients also will not be able to work through even simple chores as the disease progresses.
Impaired speech is also common among liver patients. As the toxins build up and the body starts slowing down, the muscles that control the voice are weakened. Liver patients begin to talk more slowly and their words become slurred. Patients also sometimes have a hard time forming complete sentences.
Since the liver starts backing up with blood that it is not able to process anymore, the blood has to go somewhere. The blood will start backing up in the vessels and veins, causing enlarged blood vessels. This will eventually cause hemorrhaging in the vessels as they get too engorged and burst. This is evident in the small veins at the skin level by visible blood spots on the skin that looks like spider veins. If the larger vessels in the oesophagus and abdominal cavity burst, this can lead to uncontrollable hemorrhaging of blood through vomiting and bowel movements.
The effects of liver disease and enlarged livers can be a very slow process. In some cases, if caught early and with proper treatment, the liver can rebuild itself and continue to function. It is important to see a physician as soon as any of the listed symptoms occur to determine the course of treatment. If left unattended for very long and too much of the liver is damaged, the liver loses the ability to rebuild itself and can result in a person's death.
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