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Acute Liver Failure In Children

Acute Liver Failure In Children

December 21, 2020

Introduction

Liver disease may result in various complications. The complications may be life-threatening and result in death if there is no medical intervention on time. Thus, the parents must watch the symptoms and consult with doctors if there is any concern.

Liver Failure In Children

The liver is an important organ and performs various vital functions. Acute liver failure is a life-threatening condition. The condition occurs when there is damage to liver cells, and the liver cannot perform its functions. The condition is acute as the damage occurs within a few days. The condition may occur in children without any pre-existing disease. Pediatric acute liver failure is a rare condition but may result in various complications. In acute liver failure, the child may experience various symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of skin and eyes, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness and fatigue, jaundice, coagulopathy, abdominal swelling, and hypoglycemia. There are various tests, including blood tests, urine tests, imaging tests, and biopsy for diagnosing the condition.

Causes Of Acute Liver Failure In Children

In many cases, the cause of the acute liver failure remains unknown. However, the following are some of the causes of acute liver failure in children:

Infections: Various infections, such as viral infection, may damage the cells of the liver resulting in liver failure.

Metabolic disease: Certain inherited metabolic disorders, such as galactosemia, also results in acute liver failure.

Paracetamol overdose: Liver metabolizes paracetamol. Large doses of paracetamol results in acute liver failure.

Poisonous substances: The child may accidentally ingest the poisonous substance resulting in acute liver failure.

Autoimmune disease: Autoimmune disease involves damaging the tissues of their own body. Autoimmune disease of the liver may result in acute liver failure.

Blood disorders: Hepatic abnormalities may also occur due to blood transfusion, done in blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia.

Underlying medical condition: The underlying medical conditions, such as Budd-Chiari syndrome, may also result in acute liver failure.

Complications Of Acute Liver Failure In Children

Acute liver failure in children may result in the following complications:

Infection: The liver protects from the invading pathogens through various mechanisms. It detects the foreign bodies entering the body through the gut and helps the body fight against them. One of the main functions of the liver is to produce the proteins that are involved in immunity. The liver also contains a large number of immune cells. In acute liver failure, the immune function reduces, making the child more vulnerable to infection. The most common infections in liver patients include respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and blood infections.

Bleeding disorders: Blood clotting is a complex process and requires various clotting factors. The liver synthesizes the clotting factors that assist in the formation of clots. In liver failure, the liver cannot synthesize these proteins resulting in an increased risk of bruising and bleeding. Ne of the life-threatening condition is gastrointestinal bleeding which sometimes, is difficult to control.

Encephalopathy: Liver failure also results in hepatic encephalopathy. One of the functions of the liver is to detoxify the blood and removing the toxins. In the case of liver failure, the liver is unable to clear the toxins from the blood. This results in the accumulation of toxins leading to problems in the brain. The symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy include confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and irritability. If you notice such symptoms in your child, do not ignore them and contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Reduced kidney function: Patients with liver failure may also have reduced kidney function. In severe cases, the condition may result in renal failure. Although the exact cause of this is not known, the researchers believe that the renal dysfunction may be due to portal hypertension, due to liver disease, resulting in reduced blood flow to kidneys (renal vasoconstriction).

Metabolic abnormalities: Liver failure may result in various metabolic complications. These include low potassium levels (hypokalaemia) and hypoglycemia due to increased insulin resistance.

Conclusion

Untreated liver disease may result in various complications. Fortunately, most of the complications are manageable if addressed on time. Some of the complications include increased bruising and bleeding, metabolic disorders, renal dysfunction, and hepatic encephalopathy.