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Liver Disease Symptoms And Care After Liver Transplant

Liver Disease Symptoms And Care After Liver Transplant

July 1, 2020


Liver disease may progress into a more serious form. This may lead to liver failure. Liver failure is a life-threatening condition. Thus, it is important to diagnose liver disease on time and have optimum treatment. In case all the treatment fails, a liver transplant is the last option.

Symptoms Of Diseased Liver

The liver performs various functions. These functions are important for overall well-being. A healthy liver is essential for survival. There are various types of liver diseases. Most diseases affect the overall functioning of the liver. These diseases damage hepatocytes. Cells of the liver are called hepatocytes. Serious diseases cause scarring in the liver and reduce the number of functional cells in the liver. Liver disease may progress to cause liver failure. Thus, it is important to diagnose the disease in its early stage. Following are some of the symptoms of liver disease:

Overall Fatigue: The liver plays an important role in metabolism. Various processes such as glycogenesis and gluconeogenesis occur in the liver. Glucose metabolism is important in generating energy. When the functioning of the liver reduces, these functions hampers. This results in overall fatigue in the body. 

Fluid retention: Albumin, globulin, and other blood proteins are synthesized in the liver. The function of these proteins is to maintain osmotic pressure within the blood vessels. In the case of liver dysfunction, there is a reduced synthesis of these proteins. This causes an alteration in osmotic pressure. Thus, the fluid from the blood vessels moves out and starts accumulating in the tissues. This results in swelling. Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal area is known as ascites. In the initial stage, the accumulation of fluid is controlled by removing salt from the diet. It is then followed by medications and later, the fluid is removed through drainage.

Hepatic encephalopathy: Millions of microorganisms are present in the gastrointestinal cavity. These organisms produce ammonia and other toxins as bye-product. These are absorbed from the intestine and transported to the liver for detoxification. Liver diseases hamper this function of the liver. This results in the accumulation of toxic substances. These substances, in large concentration, when reaching the brain affects brain function leading to confusion and coma. This condition is known as hepatic encephalopathy.

Gastrointestinal bleeding: Liver disease may also cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Due to liver inflammation, there is increased pressure on the blood vascular system. The blood vessels mostly affected are situated on the lining of the gastrointestinal system. These vessels have the risk of rupture and bleeding. Gastrointestinal bleeding is a life-threatening condition.

Jaundice: Once the RBC completes their life-cycle, hemoglobin undergoes oxidation and reduction reaction. These reactions result in the formation of yellow-colored bilirubin. Bilirubin is transported to the liver. Hepatocytes convert this bilirubin to conjugated bilirubin and are transported to the gall bladder. During liver disease, the efficiency of uptake and conversion of bilirubin by the liver cells reduces. This results in the accumulation of bilirubin in the body. Because of its yellow color, the eyes, skin, and nails of patients become yellow.

Nausea and Vomiting: The liver plays an important role in the digestion of fats. Incomplete digestion may lead to nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. Nausea and vomiting may also occur in liver disease due to the accumulation of toxic substances.

Easy bruising and bleeding: Whenever bleeding occurs, initiation of cascade occurs that causes blood coagulation. This cascade involves various coagulation factors. The liver is the organ where most of the coagulation factors are synthesized. In the case of liver dysfunction, there is either no or insufficient synthesis of these coagulation factors. It results in easy bruising and bleeding.

Abdominal pain: Patients of liver disease may experience abdominal pain. It may be due to excess gas formation and swelling in the abdominal area.

Care After Liver Transplant

In some cases, lifestyle modifications, medications, and other treatments do not provide respite from symptoms. In such cases, the doctor may advise liver transplant surgery. Liver transplant surgery is a complex surgery. Proper post-operative care is required for successful liver transplantation. Patients have to stay at the hospital for at least 2-3 weeks. Your vital parameters are monitored, and the function of the new liver is evaluated. After discharge, you should take your medications on time. You should visit the hospitals strictly as per schedule.

Survival After Liver Transplant

Survival after liver transplant depends upon various factors. Some studies have indicated that transplanting liver from a liver donor increases the rate of survival. The experience of surgeons, medications, and post-operative care also plays an important role in success. The one-year survival rate after liver transplant is approximately 89%, while a five-year survival rate is 75%. Age and other underlying medical conditions also affect the survival rate.