Liver – an organ for special tasks
Did you know that the liver is the largest organ in our body? He has a lot of work to do, performing at least several functions. Too overloaded can be painful. How can you tell if your liver is getting sick? Can you help her somehow?
It is obvious that every organ in our body has an important function. Meanwhile, the liver is full of several of them! What exactly is she? This is a gland that is part of our digestive system. It consists of two lobes, it lies on the right side of the body, under the costal arch. 80% of its mass are hepatocytes. What distinguishes it from other organs is the ability to self-regenerate. The liver has several tasks to do. After we eat a meal, it must produce bile, which emulsifies the fats contained in the food, improving the digestive process and making it more efficient. It also takes care of the proper carbohydrate metabolism by producing and regulating the level of glucose – storing it in the form of glycogen or transforming it into fat.
What else is the liver doing? It takes part in the production of proteins, which are an important element of the blood clotting process. It has the ability to store vitamins such as A, B12, D, and K, as well as iron that it releases into the body when it is needed. It also produces enzymes, heparin, as well as cholesterol and triglycerides. An important function of the liver is to neutralize and remove metabolic residues and toxins from the body, as well as convert purines into uric acid and ammonia into urea. In addition, the liver is involved in the body’s thermoregulation. The blood that flows through this organ is warmer by 1 ° C.
Symptoms of liver problems
It is fair to say that the liver is a multifunctional organ. Unfortunately, the belief that, regardless of our actions, it will eventually regenerate itself will linger a lot. As a result, we expose the liver to damage, which in the long run can have a disastrous effect on our health. The problem is that a weakened liver does not show obvious symptoms at first. It does not hurt because it has no sensory innervation. As a result of disturbing symptoms, we either do not notice or ignore them, considering that the problem lies elsewhere.
How do you know if your liver is sick?
- Skin discoloration and hypersensitivity – yellowing of the skin (as well as the whites of the eyes) is the result of impaired liver function and a signal that it has problems filtering out toxins. Also, itching and hypersensitivity of the skin to touch may indicate liver problems.
- Change in the color of urine – the urine of a healthy person should have a pale, so-called straw color. Persistent dark urine may indicate excess bilirubin in the blood.
Abdominal pain – the liver does not hurt, but it can get bigger and put pressure on adjacent organs, causing pain. Liver problems can also include cramps and pains in the lower abdomen and a feeling of swelling.
- Edema – when the liver is impaired, swelling appears on the face, hands and ankles.
Deterioration of well-being – fatigue and poor well-being is a characteristic symptom of many diseases. However, if they persist for a long time, it is worth checking how our liver is doing.
Liver problems and research
In the first place, any symptoms should be consulted with your family doctor. In order to confirm a possible diagnosis, he may order a number of diagnostic and imaging tests that will confirm or exclude liver disease. And there are quite a few of them.
Diagnostic blood tests include:
- bilirubin level
- ALT (ALAT), i.e. alanine aminotransferase,
- AST (AST), i.e. aspartate aminotransferase,
- GGTP, or gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase).
The results of these studies can tell us a lot about the condition of the liver. Values above the norm require further diagnosis. Your doctor may decide to test the level of anti-HCV antibodies or HBs antigen to diagnose viral hepatitis.
Imaging tests are extremely important in the diagnosis of liver diseases, allowing the assessment of the structure of the liver, its vascularity and the structure of the parenchyma. First, an ultrasound of the liver is performed, which makes it possible to detect such changes as tumors and cysts, gallstones or fatty liver. Other studies include computed tomography, magnetic resonance and angiography of the liver. However, it should be remembered that they are performed in some cases.