The liver is a silent worker of the body. It is involved in a huge number of biochemical reactions, neutralize, inhibit and decompose the poisons, toxins and products of metabolism, the liver is involved in hematopoiesis, the formation of bile, production of glucose and many other essential body substances. And it almost never hurts.
However, this apparent advantage sometimes turns into a human disaster when we learn about a serious problem only at the doctor or by looking at the yellowed skin.
An important signal of unhealthy changes is the enlarged liver — hepatomegaly. The normal liver of an adult weighs about 1-1. 5 kg, however, during hepatomegaly it can be as much as 10-15 or even 20 kg and occupy a half of the abdominal cavity.
The Symptoms of Hepatomegaly
The liver tissue has no nerve endings, therefore a problem does not cause discomfort for some time. However, the capsule, in which this gland is enclosed, has nerve endings, and a kind of a protection system – its limited elasticity does not allow the liver to grow without pain signals.
That is why the unpleasant, but not critical at first glance, blob on the right side is so painful during palpation.
Of course, there are the obvious symptoms and you should immediately consult a hepatologist or gastroenterologist, when, for example, the skin or eyes turn yellow; however, there are other signals of the body that you need to pay attention to and react accordingly:
- A blob, pain and heaviness in the right hypochondrium;
- Discomfort and unusual feeling of fullness in the abdomen;
- General weakness, fatigue and frequent fatigue;
- Nausea, heartburn, bitter taste in the mouth;
- The appearance of spider veins on the skin;
- The rapid weight loss.
Noticing these symptoms, you should not delay the visit to the therapist that will determine the possible problem and send you to a specialist.
Diagnostics of the Liver with Hepatomegaly
Usually if there is a suspicion on a pathology associated with the liver, including the enlarged liver, the whole complex of tests is assigned. It includes:
- Clinical examination;
- A mandatory set of blood tests to determine the level of liver enzymes, bilirubin, toxins and antibodies;
- A computed tomography in cases of suspected tumor and a liver disease;
- If necessary – a biopsy of the liver tissue.
In modern clinics biopsy replace a non-invasive technique of magnetic resonance elastography.
Do not be surprised if ECG or ECHO cardiography are assigned, some problems of the cardiovascular system can also affect the liver.
Enlarged Liver: Causes
The liver can increase in size because of dozens of not related to each other reasons, but they can be grouped according to similar characteristics and processes.
- Inflammation of the liver tissue. This group includes all sorts of infections, toxic poisoning, viral and alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, autoimmune processes. Inflammation can lead to the death of liver cells and subsequent replacement of the liver tissue with the connective tissue that also causes the enlarging of the liver.
- Diseases of the blood and the cardiovascular system. A number of abnormalities of the heart and blood vessels can cause venous stasis in the hepatic tissues. It can be as “foreign” to the liver disease, such as congenital and acquired heart defects, postmyocardial syndrome or infarction, and vascular problems directly to the liver – Budd–Chiari syndrome.
- Tumors and neoplasms, including a primary carcinoma of the liver, hyperplasia and adenoma, lymphoma, and liver metastases from cancers of other internal organs. This also includes leukemia, but the principle of its influence on the development of hepatomegaly is more appropriate to the next section.
- Infiltration and accumulation. Problems with metabolic processes and filtering disorders lead to accumulation of a significant number of different unsplit substances in the liver. So hemochromatosis provokes the deposition of large amounts of iron in the liver, and hepatolenticular degeneration – copper. Caused by endocrine and metabolic disorders, toxins and alcohol, hepatosis interfere with excretion of fat from the liver and lead to obesity of the liver cells. Diabetes or pregnancy can also contribute to the accumulation of fat in the liver. Metastasis of the above-mentioned leukemia causes accumulation of leukemic infiltrates in the liver. Also granulomatous hepatitis, amyloidosis, glycogen storage disease and other pathologies can cause accumulation of infiltrates.
- The presence of liver parasites, the formation of aparasitemic parasitic cysts can also be a cause of the enlarged liver.
It should be noted that an unbalanced diet can also cause the enlarging of the liver, which is associated with excessive fat accumulation.
This applies not only to people suffering from obesity, but also to those who are fond of strict diets. In this case the liver stores fat at every opportunity, forming stocks of fat for the body suffering from the lack of nutrients.
And, of course, the digestive system affects the liver directly.
Sometimes the tests can show that the enlargement of the liver is a wrong diagnosis and the cause of the abnormal pressure is due to the other internal organs.
Nevertheless, its no good news either – instead there may occur various diseases of the lungs, abscesses in the abdominal cavity under the dome of the diaphragm, tumors in the intestines and in the right kidney, as well as a pathological increase in the gallbladder.
Enlarged Liver: Risks and Prevention
Some enlargement of the liver may occur, say, after a big holiday with its abundant and not always healthy meals, and alcohol.
In addition to a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol, experts advise:
- Strictly observe the timing of the intake and the dosage of vitamins and medicines prescribed by a doctor;
- Do not to self-medicate and do not to experiment with fashionable vitamin-mineral complexes, reviewed traditional methods, dietary supplements and herbal teas without your physician’s approval;
- Be careful with household chemicals, they are often toxic and dangerous to your health;
- Give up smoking;
- Maintain your weight;
- Exercise and take walks in the fresh air;
- Remember that many infections, including hepatitis, are sexually transmitted;
- Have enough time for adequate rest and sleep.