Liver failure


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  • What the liver likes

    The liver plays a central role in our metabolism: it filters the blood, produces hormones, breaks down various metabolites and stores nutrients. Actually - because often man makes life difficult for the organ. Above all, an unhealthy lifestyle and environmental toxins harm. Therefore do something good for your liver with the following tips!
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  • Nice bitter

    Bitterns make your liver rejoice. Because they increase bile production and thus make the fat from the food better tolerated. That relieves the liver. In particular, bitter ingredients can be found in plant foods such as chicory, radicchio, endive, artichoke, Brussels sprouts or dandelion.
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  • Coffee for the liver

    Coffee is a great drink - at least for the liver. A meta-study has shown that the drinker's trunk reduces the risk of developing liver cancer. And by at least 40 percent. The ingredients in the coffee also activate the enzymes of the liver, the researchers said. The subjects sipped one to three cups a day for this effect.
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  • The liver likes it spicy

    Use plenty of fresh herbs and spices while cooking. Rosemary for example. The contained polyphenols, essential oils and minerals activate the bile flow, increase blood circulation and support the liver during detoxification. Sage is also good for the liver. It has an anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and regeneration-promoting effect.
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  • Liver wrap as a wellness treatment

    You know that for sure: After the greasy pork roast feeling of fullness and annoying belching become widespread. To promote the digestion of fat, try instead of digestive schnapps but rather a time-tested home remedy: Liver wrap. Simply soak a small towel with hot salt water, wring out and put on the liver, hot water bottle over it, done! After about 30 minutes you can remove the whole thing again.
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  • Small portions

    Digestion is hard work for the internal organs. That is why it is better for the liver, among other things, if it is not "killed" with huge portions. So eat more often a day and for smaller quantities.
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  • Not too much alcohol

    The liver helps to detoxify the body. In this regard, you are especially worried about alcohol. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, men should not consume more than 20 grams of alcohol per day, women only 10 grams (that's about a glass of wine). Anyone who looks too deep into the glass in the long run gets the unpleasant receipt: the liver becomes fatty (fatty liver) or even shrinks (liver cirrhosis).
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  • Fat only in moderation

    A fatty liver can also be formed by too fat and calorie-containing food. Because the liver likes to store fat, after all, it is a very efficient fuel for bad times. In the meantime, fatty liver is actually the most common liver disease in Germany. The simple antidote: Try to eat a healthy diet and fry or roast your food rarely.
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  • Smoking attacks the liver

    It is not for nothing that cigarette consumption is considered one of the risk factors for liver cancer. Because the organ has to do with the detoxification of smoking. Especially in combination with alcohol, smoking increases the likelihood of liver cirrhosis or fatty liver. Therefore: Keep your fingers off the glowing stems and try to smoke as passively as possible.
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  • Little carbohydrates

    Are you already suffering from fatty liver? The good news: The liver has excellent regeneration capabilities. In order to get a grip on the so-called non-alcoholic fatty liver, a radical reduction of carbohydrates in the diet is especially effective. In addition to sugar and sweets, carbohydrates include all flour products as well as fruits, potatoes and rice. Regular exercise is also advised.
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  • Active for the liver

    Moving is not only good for people who already have problems with the liver. Basically, exercise activity, about five hours a week, will keep you and your liver fit. Because, among other things, the circulation and metabolism are improved.
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  • Caution with paracetamol

    Pain? Fever? Many then quickly resort to acetaminophen. This poses certain dangers, because if you swallow too much of the pills, you risk liver failure. Doctors even demand a prescription for the drug. So make sure that you do not overdose on acetaminophen and in case of doubt, ask your doctor again.

  • By Christiane FuxMedicine editor
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Liver failure: causes and risk factors

In principle, quite different causes are possible for a liver failure. Often liver failure is preceded by liver disease, which has been around for months or years. Ultimately, the various functions of the liver collapse because the body no longer manages to compensate for the damage. In that case one speaks of one chronic liver failure, in a sudden severe deterioration of one Acute-to-chronic liver failure.

Chronic hepatic insufficiency can arise, for example, when, due to years of alcohol abuse, more and more liver cells are destroyed and the tissue is scarred (liver cirrhosis). A liver failure in cancer is also possible if the liver cells degenerate or "spreads" a malignant tumor from another organ. In some cases, a chronic viral infection such as hepatitis C takes a severe course and ultimately leads to liver failure.

One acute liver failure means that the liver function breaks down without a long-term previous illness. This is much less common; About 200 to 500 people develop acute liver failure annually in Germany. There can be several reasons if a liver failure suddenly develops within a short time:

  • Viral hepatitis: Hepatitis A, B, D or E are viral infections that are usually associated with acute hepatitis. Rarely, cytomegalovirus and other herpes viruses can lead to such hepatitis. In some people, this is so severe that it leads to acute liver failure in a short time. However, this is rather rare in all forms of viral hepatitis.
  • poisoning: In many industrialized countries, the proportion of toxic liver damage increases as the trigger of acute liver failure. Mostly behind it is an overdose of drugs such as acetaminophen, more rarely tuberculosis drugs and certain herbal remedies in far too high doses. Also, poisoning with mushrooms (such as tuberous mushroom), drugs (such as ecstasy) and chemicals can trigger acute liver failure.

Rarer causes of acute liver failure include autoimmune hepatitis, Wilson's disease and pregnancy complications - acute pregnancy obesity or HELLP syndrome. In up to 20 percent of cases, the trigger of hepatitis remains unclear, which ultimately leads to liver failure. Doctors then speak of one cryptogenic hepatitis.

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Liver failure: examinations and diagnosis

Many people with a liver failure are already over a long period of time with certain pre-existing medical conditions and a burden on the liver is known (chronic liver failure). This facilitates the diagnosis. An acute liver failure without pre-existing conditions is rarer - the doctor first asks the medical history (History) and inquires about drug and alcohol consumption, other toxic substances, stays abroad and possible sources of infection for a viral infection. Sometimes, liver failure has progressed so far that the person is confused or unconscious - in which case relatives are interviewed if possible.

The clinical symptoms such as jaundice and eye flutter quickly make the doctor think that the liver is not working properly. At a physical examination he feels the upper abdomen, where he can feel if the liver is enlarged or reduced. For the diagnosis of liver failure, he also takes blood - various laboratory values ​​in the blood count (such as coagulation parameters, bilirubin, ammonia) support the suspicion of chronic or acute liver failure.

Further investigations are based on the suspected cause, the symptoms and the course of the liver insufficiency. Sometimes the doctor takes a sample of liver tissue (liver biopsy) for laboratory examination; Also helpful are imaging procedures such as a special ultrasound scan (duplex sonography) or an X-ray of the chest. Sometimes the blood pressure in certain vessels is measured with a catheter. If suspected fluid accumulation in the brain (brain edema), the doctors can measure the intracranial pressure with a probe via a small hole in the skull.

Read more about the investigations

Find out here which examinations can be useful for this illness:

  • biopsy
  • laparoscopy
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Liver failure: treatment

Acute or acute-to-chronic liver failure requires immediate therapy in an intensive care unit. The treatment depends mainly on the cause of the liver damage - therefore an accurate diagnosis is very important. For example, patients with liver failure due to intoxication immediately receive gastric lavage and, if possible, an antidote. For certain viral infections, such as hepatitis B, antiviral therapy may be useful.

In addition, in case of liver failure symptoms such as the derailed blood values ​​are treated as well as possible, for example by infusions with glucose, electrolytes (blood salts) or blood plasma with coagulation factors. The ammonia concentration in the intestine is usually lowered by the doctors with special enemas. With increased intracranial pressure, various medications are also used to reduce intracranial pressure.

Liver failure: Therapy through a transplant

In some cases, especially with a previously damaged liver, there is little chance that the organ will recover and resume its functions. In that case, patients are immediately transferred to a transplant center, where they get a new liver as soon as possible. It may also be sufficient to replace only the left lobe of the liver (Auxiliary Partial Orthotopic Liver Transplantation, APOLT).

So-called extracorporeal liver replacement procedures such as special liver dialysis are in medical trials and not yet a standard therapy.