The liver it self weighs about 3 pounds and is the largest solid organ in the body. The liver is important to the human body because it performs many important functions such as filtering the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body, processing nutrients from food, making bile, and building proteins. Some of the symptoms that you might notice by having liver cirrhosis are bruising, yellowing of skin, itchy skin, brownish or orange tint to the urine, etc. The most common causes why people are diagnosed by liver cirrhosis are hepatitis C, fatty liver, and alcohol abuse. But nonetheless any damage on the liver may cause the person to have the disease. Although there is not a cure for the disease there are some treatments that can help prevent it, delay the process, or minimize the damage of the liver cells.
The normal state of a liver can help with processing nutrients from food that is being consumed; the liver processes the nutrients in different ways, depending on what the body needs. Charles Daniel wrote that “the liver stores most of the nutrients in a form that the body can use for quick energy and for the rest of nutrients it will be used for other important chemicals in the body;” in an article called, Understanding the Liver and its Many Vital Functions. When the liver is damaged the nutrients cannot be processed from the blood to the body.
The liver is also known for making bile, bile is a thick, green-yellow fluid that the liver produces to help digest food as it passes from the stomach to the intestines. The fluid may be produced in the liver but it is stored in the gallbladder, the bile is stored so when the person consumes food such as steak the bile will help digest the meal faster. The liver is an important organ to the digestive system to be able to break down the consumed food. Which is why it is important for the liver to produce bile. Removing toxins from the blood is another well important function of the liver. The blood passes throughout the whole body and because it passes through the body it must be filtered to be able to help the body move smoothly as it should. The blood runs through the liver so it can detoxify the chemicals and metabolizes drugs. Building protein is another function that the liver has which is very important because the body needs as any proteins as it can get. “When the liver is damaged, sometimes the body isn’t able to clot blood effectively. In mild cases it just takes a longer time for bleeding to stop,” (Charles Daniel.
According to the National institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver slowly deteriorates and is unable to function normally due to chronic injury.”
There are different types of cirrhosis in which people are diagnosed with. There is chronic hepatitis C, Alcoholic-related liver disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The most common cause of liver cirrhosis, while chronic hepatitis C and alcohol-related liver disease.
“Global liver cirrhosis deaths increased from around 676,000 in 1980 to over 1 million. Over the same period, the age-standardized cirrhosis mortality rate decreased by 22%, (Mokdad).” The more people keep stop caring for their body the more they have a chance to have a disease whether it is liver cirrhosis or any other type of disease. Liver cirrhosis is a global health burden in which will keep increasing if individuals start taking better care of themselves. A health liver is very important for survival. “The global health community has increasingly recognized the importance of controlling liver cirrhosis risk factors, particularly heavy alcohol intake and chronic viral hepatitis B and C infections, (Mokdad).”
There are different methods in which people are diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. They are mostly done through exams which consists of a physical exam, a blood test, and imaging test. A physical exam may help your doctor determine whether or not you may have cirrhosis by examining your body. They use stethoscopes to listen to sounds in the abdomen, then they ta on specific areas on the body. Something that the professionals due look for while they examine the patient is the abdomen because the liver may feel hard which may cause the abdomen to enlarge.
Next is the blood test which the doctor draws blood out from the patient and sends the blood to a lab analysis. Blood tests can show abnormal cirrhosis; i.e. a health care provider may use blood tests to diagnose hepatitis B and C. There are three blood test that doctors take to measure to determine the size of the cirrhosis. In one they test the amount of bile pigment in the blood, which is called bilirubin. Creatinine is another blood test they use to test the function of the kidneys. The last blood test they take is the international normalized ratio, which does test the blood’s ability to clot. So from physical test to blood work the doctors will move on or chose to make more test by creating imaging test.
Imaging test can include ultrasounds, computerized tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging, and elastography. As most people know an ultrasound is a machine they put up against the body and lets us see inside the internal side of the body with images, it will help the doctor determine whether the patient has damages towards the liver. A computerized tomography scan is another method to see with images but it is combined with a combination of x-rays and computer technology. A magnetic resonance imaging is a machine that uses radio waves and magnets to produce detailed pictures of the body’s internal. The last imaging test is called, “Elastrography which is may also be called liver stiffness measurement, it uses either ultrasound or MRI to measure the stiffness of the liver. Scar tissue may increase the stiffness of the liver, (N.I.H).” The imaging will help show the doctor how much scarring is on the liver.
Although liver cirrhosis may not be cured it can be treated with the help of preventing problems with medication, viral hepatitis vaccination and screening, and treating the symptoms. Another great way to help treat the liver when it is damaged is by eating healthy. Cirrhosis may lead to malnutrition because it can cause people to eat less due to the symptoms such as loss of appetite, it changes the metabolism, and it reduces absorption of vitamins and minerals. A person with liver cirrhosis should remember not to eat raw shellfish because it can contain bacterium that may cause some serious infections. The person should also consider taking supplements such as vitamins D and calcium to help prevent osteoporosis.
Writing this paper for my Biology 2010 class made me understand the importance of a liver for the body. It is important to the body because it helps you bring detoxed blood to the body, it produces bile to breakdown food, as well as producing proteins. All these functions that the liver makes is important for the body to be healthy and nutrient. Which is why I am glad we wrote about liver cirrhosis and hope that may people understand the importance of an organ whether it is small or big; every organ is important to stay alive.
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