WHAT IS ACUTE LIVER FAILURE?
Acute Liver Failure is a rare medical condition that occurs when your liver loses its ability to function suddenly. It is more prominent in patients who are not suffering from any pre-existing liver disease or cirrhosis. Those patients who have an INR of 1.5 or higher are also at a high risk of Acute Liver Failure.
Although it is a less common disease, it has huge and very risky complications. It may lead to excessive bleeding and may create pressure on the brain. A patient must be hospitalized immediately after diagnosis. Depending upon various factors it may be reversible. However, in some cases, it can only be cured by Liver Transplant surgery.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF ACUTE LIVER FAILURE
If you are diagnosed with Acute Liver Failure you may experience the following symptoms:
· Acute pain in the upper right abdomen
· Loss in appetite
· Change in skin color (yellow)
CAUSES OF ALF
There are numerous factors due to which Acute Liver Failure may occur.
· Hepatitis is a major cause of ALF. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis E are the most prominent.
· Overdosage of Acetaminophen, every day or for several days may cause ALF.
· Certain poisonous Toxins can also cause ALF.
· Disease in veins or any vascular disease may cause blockage in the veins of the liver and disrupt its functioning.
· Wilson’s disease and acute fatty liver of pregnancy can also cause acute liver failure.
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COMPLICATIONS OF ACUTE LIVER FAILURE
· EXCESSIVE BLEEDING – The liver fails to produce certain blood clotting factors necessary for coagulation. As a result, excessive bleeding takes place in the gastrointestinal path which may be very dangerous if not treated early.
· HIGH PRESSURE IN BRAIN: Excessive fluid can form in the brain that creates unwanted pressure. It may lead to disorientation and cracks which are also dangerous.
· KIDNEY DAMAGE – Liver Failure can also lead to kidney failure due to an overdose of certain medicines. Both are vital organs and must be protected.
Because Acute Liver Failure is a serious condition it requires immediate treatment as soon as it is diagnosed. For diagnosis, the health care providers will prescribe certain blood tests such as CBC, PT TEST, and PT/INR and will also test you for Hepatitis. They may also check any toxin level and will review your drug history to determine it’s cause.
TREATMENT FOR ACUTE LIVER FAILURE
After a cause is determined, the treatment is then prescribed accordingly. If hepatitis is the cause then they will provide the patient with medication that cures viral hepatitis. If after certain medications the body does not respond appropriately, a liver Transplant is the only option left.
For patients on blood-thinning medications such as WARFARIN (COUMADIN), their PT/INR LEVEL can be monitered at home with the help of PT/INR METERS. With PATIENT SELF TESTING, it is convenient to monitor their INR level and they can have the results in seconds.