Chronic Care Information and Resources

Liver Function

Our Liver is one of the most important organs in the body. Its main job is to act as a filter for the blood that comes from the digestive tract before releasing it into the bloodstream. The liver detoxifies what we consume, metabolizes food and drugs, and rids the body of toxic or harmful substances.[1] The gallbladder sits right underneath the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines, working together to digest, absorb, and process food. The liver also makes ketones, and proteins important for blood clotting and other functions.

Liver Disease

Having a healthy functioning liver is imperative, since the liver is responsible for many vital reasons including the removal of waste and toxic substances from the body. Common diseases that directly impact the liver are:

  • Hepatitis: Viral hepatitis A, B, and C causes inflammation of the liver.
  • Cirrhosis: Long-term damage to the liver, usually from alcohol or drug abuse can lead to permanent scarring.
  • Liver failure: Liver failure can occur due to infection, genetic diseases, and excessive alcohol.
  • Liver cancer: Liver cancer can become present after cirrhosis has occurred, particularly hepatocellular carcinoma, a common form of liver cancer.
  • Hemochromatosis: Hemochromatosis is where iron deposits into the liver, causing damage and potentially spreading throughout the rest of the body.
  • Fatty liver disease: Fatty deposits in the liver can come from excessive alcohol use or obesity.[2]

Common Symptoms: Liver disease often manifests in common symptoms such as yellow eyes, pain in the abdomen, dark urine with a strong odor, swelling in the abdomen, swollen legs and ankles, fatigue, or gastrointestinal distress.

Treatment: A physician may administer a liver function panel that will test liver function and check for various diseases and abnormalities. Testing for Bilirubin, Albumin, Ammonia, hepatitis A. B. C. are also common. Imaging tests such as ultrasounds and CT scans can detect cirrhosis, cancer or any other liver injury. A liver biopsy may be used to check for cancerous cells if necessary.[3]