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The Liver

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Learn Center - Learn about Liver Disease

The Liver & Liver Disease

Find out what your liver does and why it’s important for everyday life, and discover common liver diseases and their treatments from The Liver Institute.

Did you know that the liver is one of the most important organs in the human body? It is also one of the largest organs, providing numerous essential functions for survival. As cases of liver disease continue to grow in the U.S., many people throughout North Texas are searching for answers relating to how and why. Here, we’ll answer your most basic questions about the liver as well as what can happen when it stops functioning correctly.

What does the liver do?

The liver essentially acts as a filter for the human body. As substances including blood and bile are passed through the liver, they are broken down or processed. Toxins are then eliminated through the bowels while proteins, nutrients and even medications are pushed back into the blood stream to aid the body in other processes. When healthy, the liver is also able to regenerate itself, making it one of our most self-healing organs.

Why is the liver important?

The liver’s main functions make it essential to the human body. Flushing out toxins helps maintain the body’s optimal health. When the liver processes blood, it creates proteins used for blood clotting. It also makes bile, aiding in digestion by breaking down fats for absorption by the body. Additionally, the liver is responsible for ensuring a balance in blood sugar levels. Through all of these functions and more, the liver protects the body and provides energy, two elements vital to human life.

Why would the liver fail?

Just as the liver performs a number of vital processes, there are also countless corresponding diseases that can affect liver health and function. Each illness or disease has its own unique cause ranging from alcohol consumption to parasites and viruses.

What types of diseases affect the liver?

The following are some of the most common diseases affecting the liver:

  • Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C – viruses causing swelling of the liver and decreasing proper liver function
  • Cirrhosis – liver scarring, often caused by chronic liver disease
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver – excess buildup of fat in the liver, usually a result of obesity or diabetes and unrelated to alcohol consumption
  • Alcoholic Liver Disease – loss of fat in liver cells as a direct result of alcohol consumption
  • Cancer – unhealthy cells taking over liver function with various causes including other liver diseases, toxic exposure and alcoholism
  • Genetic Diseases – inherited conditions, often treatable but unpreventable

How do I treat liver disease?

Just as each cause of liver disease is different, so are the treatment options. While some illnesses may be addressed through medication, others may require surgery or a full transplant. Each patient is unique and working with a skilled liver disease specialist helps to ensure the right course of treatment is chosen for each individual.

Can I prevent liver disease?

Not all liver diseases are preventable, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle may improve the function of the liver. Steps to take include limiting alcohol consumption and exposure to airborne toxins, eating a balanced diet and practicing safe sex.

Find more information on liver diseases and their treatments at The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas here. With offices in North Texas stretching from Dallas, Plano and Ft. Worth to Tyler, Lubbock and more, we are here to assist you throughout all phases of diagnosis and treatment of liver disease.