What Is Hepatic Failure?

Hepatic failure simply explained is liver damage to the point at which the liver cannot properly function. Did you know that the liver is the second largest organ in the body and plays an enormous role in our overall health? Aside from working hard to process every single thing we eat and drink and then converting it into vital nutrients and energy, the liver filters harmful toxins from the blood and helps ward off infections. That is why hepatic failure is such a serious condition, one that at its most severe may even result in death.

Types of Hepatic Failure

There are two types of hepatic failure. One is acute hepatic failure which is loss of liver function that strikes suddenly – within weeks or days – and may provide absolutely no warning signs. Too much acetaminophen can cause acute hepatic failure. Other than Tylenol overdose, acute hepatic failure causes can also include side effects of some other prescription medications, hepatitis A, B and C, ingesting poisonous mushrooms or other toxins and contracting certain autoimmune disorders such as AIDS.

The second type of hepatic failure is called chronic hepatic failure and occurs at a much slower pace. Chronic hepatic failure develops over what may be months or possibly years before any symptoms appear. Chronic hepatic failure can be caused by cirrhosis of the liver which is usually the direct result of alcohol abuse. This is due to the fact that while the liver can rid the body of toxins like alcohol, the liver often cannot provide the level of toxin removal required by heavy drinking. The way chronic hepatic failure works is that when the liver becomes inflamed, scars can form over time. As this scar tissue begins to replace healthy tissue in the liver, hepatic failure will ensue.

There are three types of alcohol-related hepatic failure: alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can be the result of heavy alcohol intake and obesity; alcoholic hepatitis, which is developed by up to 35 percent of heavy drinkers and a condition in which fat cells within the liver become inflamed and scarred; and alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, the worst form of the three, affecting from ten to twenty percent of heavy drinkers, according to the American Liver Foundation.

More common in people who are 50 years and older, cirrhosis of the liver is discovered in more than 200,000 patients every year in the United States alone. Cirrhosis of the liver, which has no known cure, can also last years, be lifelong, as well as life-threatening.

Other than alcoholism, which is the most common cause of chronic hepatic failure, chronic hepatic failure can also be caused by needle sharing, dirty tattoo needles and unsanitary piercings. Hepatic failure, whether acute or chronic, can also be passed on genetically from generation to generation. Sadly, there are also patients who develop hepatic failure with no known cause.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hepatic Failure

Hepatic failure can be very challenging to diagnose, as typical symptoms can be reflective of other health issues or medical conditions. Those symptoms may include fatigue, itching, loss of appetite and/or weight, nausea, diarrhea, jaundice, easy bruising, swelling of lower extremities and buildup of fluid within the abdomen. Toxins can also build up in the brain, resulting in mental fatigue which can look like trouble concentrating or memory loss and/or trouble sleeping. There could be also be loss of sex drive and spider-like veins which appear on the skin. More severe symptoms may include increased disorientation, stomach bleeding or kidney failure. Fatal stage symptoms, which may occur without the exhibition of any previous symptoms, may include slipping into a coma.

Physicians attempting to diagnose hepatic failure typically use blood screening tests to search for blood abnormalities that may indicate hepatic failure and imaging tests such as MRIs and ultrasounds. Plus, a biopsy may be performed in an effort to discover liver damage. Believe it or not, with lifestyle changes and medication, the liver can work to repair itself and some liver damage – if caught early enough – can actually be reversed.

Treatment of Hepatic Failure

Other treatment can include surgically removing a portion of the damaged liver.

Prevention of Hepatic Failure

To help prevent hepatic failure, it is best to keep drinking moderate and try to protect yourself from other toxins as well. Also practice safe sex and use of needles. Additionally, you can get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.

Hepatic Failure Clinical Trials

Riverside Clinical Research is also doing what it can to help, as can you. We are looking for those interested in participating in our next hepatic clinical study. Our clinical study volunteers are compensated, no health insurance is required and, as a clinical research volunteer, you may benefit from the use of medications or treatments before they are available to the general public. If you think you might want to help the medical professionals at Riverside Clinical Research help to improve the lives of those with hepatic failure, simply contact us to see if you qualify. For more information, call Riverside Clinical Research at 386-428-7730 Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.; emailing info@riversideclinicalresearch.com or access the patient portal on the Riverside Clinical Research website at riversideclinicalresearch.com.

  1. Riverside Clinical Research is an award-winning research facility staffed with highly trained doctors and research professionals who work closely with our clinical trial volunteers to monitor and assess the benefits and effectiveness of certain treatments. Riverside Clinical Research is conveniently located at 1410 S. Ridgewood Avenue in the beautiful beachside community of Edgewater, Florida.