The liver is the largest glandular organ in the human body. It carries out a number of critical functions so as to keep the human body free of toxins and other chemicals that can be harmful to human body. According to medical studies and researches in institutions such as American Liver Foundation, it is documented that liver is the largest gland and also the second most transplanted organ in the human body after kidneys.
A gland is an organ that secretes chemicals in the human body and liver also falls under this category because it produces bile, a vital fluid responsible for digestion of fatty lipids. Bile contains salts that break up fatty lipids into smaller and absorbable portions through a biological process known as an emulsion.
Functions of the human liver
- Detoxification. The liver detoxifies the blood by getting rid of harmful substances such as alcohol.
- Conversion of ammonia into urea, an important chemical compound in the body metabolism and nitrogen excretion.
- Destruction of old blood cells.
- Breaking down the hemoglobin and regulating insulin levels in the human body.
- Conversion of inactive sugar into to functional sugar during the low level of blood sugar in the body.
Diseases affecting liver
- Hepatitis A, B, C D and E.
- Epstein-Barr virus.
- Hemochromatosis also called iron overload.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Wilson’s disease.
Symptoms of liver diseases
I. Yellowish skin and eyes due to the deposition of bilirubin, a chemical waste product that of produced when the liver breaks down hemoglobin.
II. Abdominal pain and swelling of limbs.
III. Chronic fatigue.
IV. Dark urine color and discoloration of stool due to the failure of the liver to destroy old red blood cells anymore.
Treatment of liver diseases
When the liver is infected by various diseases, it is said to be failing. Liver failure treatments depend on of the actual cause.
- In the case of hepatitis, there are anti-viral medications that treat hepatitis B. by using steroid based drugs helps in autoimmune hepatitis.
- In the case of iron overload or hemochromatosis, venesection is recommended.
- In the case of Wilson’s disease, patients are given medications that allow copper to be passed from their bodies in urine.
Prevention of liver diseases
- Maintaining good eating lifestyle such as limiting alcohol consumption.
- Getting a hepatitis vaccine.
- Practicing proper hygiene such as washing hands thoroughly after using bathrooms.
- Using protection when handling an injured person or during sex.