Liver Disease

Liver Disease: Overview

The liver is responsible for a great number of functions in the body.  Liver disease hampers these processes and can lead to complications ranging in severity from minor to fatal.

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The liver is one of the most essential organs in the body, performing functions as diverse as aiding digestion, deriving energy from foods, and eliminating poisons from the blood.

Liver diseases affect the cells, tissues and structures of the liver, causing liver damage and, in severe cases, cessation of liver function and patient death as a result.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms depend on the nature of the underlying disease process.  Liver pain is often confused with kidney pain, abdominal pain, or back pain because of its location.  It is felt in the upper-right quadrant behind the rib cage.  It is usually felt as a dull ache, but can be sharp.

Problems in nearby organs – for example intestinal disorders, gallstones or obstructions – can also produce liver pain.

Diagnosis and Tests

Many liver diseases and other organ conditions can lead to liver pain, making diagnosis a process of elimination.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Liver Disease:

Symptoms - Abdomen

Moderate/severe/significant right hypochondriac pain or mild right hypochondriac discomfort

Liver disease is usually only painful if it stretches the capsule of the liver.  The pain is felt in the upper-right quadrant beneath your rib cage, usually as a dull ache, or the pain can be sharp and can sometimes be accompanied by back/shoulder pain.

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Conditions that suggest Liver Disease:


Organ Health


Hepatitis is an inflammatory disease of the liver, commonly caused by a viral infection.

Enlarged Liver

An enlarged liver usually indicates some form of underlying liver disease.

Tumors, Malignant

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Health problems rarely occur in isolation or for obvious reasons

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Strong or generally accepted link: is often a sign or symptom of
Strong or generally accepted link:
is often a sign or symptom of
Definite or direct link: strongly suggests
Definite or direct link:
strongly suggests
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