Liver Failure

What is Liver Failure?

Liver failure (due to cirrhosis or acute liver failure) is a condition that arises when the liver starts losing its ability to function. Liver function is an uncommon disease and demands immediate medical attention. The disease may or may not be reversible depending upon its type and extent.


Symptoms of liver failure include:

  • Abdominal pain towards the right side of the body
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Feeling of nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Confusion and anxiety
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite


In some cases, liver failure may be caused due to unknown causes. However, some known causes of liver failure are:

  • Intake of certain medications like antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anticonvulsants might lead to liver failure. Herbal medicines like kava, ephedra and skullcap might also cause acute liver failure.
  • Diseases like Budd-Chiari syndrome blocks liver veins of the liver that causes liver failure.
  • Metabolic diseases like Wilson's disease often cause liver failure.
  • An overdose of acetaminophen often leads to liver failure.
  • Certain viruses like Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis E may lead to acute liver failure.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis is a condition in which the patient’s immune system starts damaging the liver cells which may lead to acute liver failure.
  • Liver failure can also occur when the liver gets affected by cancer.


Some risk factors associated with liver failure are:

  • Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is a painkiller that is often prescribed by doctors. It is the most common cause of acute liver failure.
  • Diseases: Patients diagnosed with diseases such as hepatitis, Wilson’s disease, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus and herpes simplex virus are at a high risk of developing liver failure.


The disease can be prevented through the following means:

  • Medicines like acetaminophen or other medications should be taken according to their dosage.
  • Limiting the intake of alcohol and tobacco.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Getting vaccinations for hepatitis or any other disease that may cause acute liver failure.
  • Intake of poisonous wild mushrooms should be avoided.
  • One should maintain a healthy weight and a balanced diet.

How is it diagnosed?

The doctor diagnosis liver failure by conducting certain blood test, imaging tests or by examining the liver tissue of the patient.


How is it treated?

Liver failure grows suddenly in a patient and can lead to some serious complications. The doctor may try to control the symptoms and the complications through medication or by conducting a liver transplant.


  • Medications

    The doctors prescribe certain medicines that help in reducing the effects of Acetaminophen overdose or mushroom poisoning.

  • Liver transplant

    The doctor opts for liver transplant in cases where liver failure is irreversible. In the procedure, the doctor replaces the patient’s deceased liver with a healthy liver donated by another person.

  • Screening tests

    The screening tests help in detecting infections in the blood by collecting and analysing the samples of the patient’s blood.

  • Reducing the risk bleeding

    Bleeding can be reduced with the help of medications because blood loss may further worsen the complications.

When do I contact the doctor?

Liver failure is dangerous for the patient’s life. The patient should be closely monitored for symptoms of acute liver failure. One should consult the doctor as soon as they start noticing any signs or symptoms of the disease in a person. The appropriate treatment and the associated side effects should be thoroughly evaluated and discussed with the doctor.  

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How does Medanta provide care?

Medanta ensures expert care for its patients who are diagnosed with liver failure at the Institute of Liver Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine.

The Medanta Institute of Liver Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine is Asia..

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