Liver Failure

When the liver is damaged, whether it's from a virus, harmful chemicals, or some other cause, it will eventually lose its ability to function. This is called liver failure, and it is a life-threatening condition. There are two types of liver failure--chronic and acute. Chronic liver failure is usually the result of cirrhosis, and it happens slowly over the course of months or years. Acute liver failure happens suddenly and is usually caused by poisoning or an overdose.

Early symptoms of liver failure include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue and loss of appetite. Since these symptoms are associated with a host of other conditions, it may take some time before the correct diagnosis is made. As liver failure worsens, people may experience disorientation and drowsiness. At this stage, there is a risk of coma and death. Treatment for liver failure depends on whether the person still has any liver function. If a portion of the liver is still functioning, a liver specialist will recommend a treatment plan to maintain the liver's remaining function and prevent further stress on the liver. Otherwise, a liver transplant is necessary.