Liver Helpline India

Recent Posts


HOD & Senior Surgeon -
Liver Transplantation And Hepato-Pancraetic Biliary Surgery

View Profile


Pediatric Acute Liver Failure: Symptoms And Treatment

Pediatric Acute Liver Failure: Symptoms And Treatment

January 6, 2021


Pediatric acute liver failure is a condition in which the cells of the liver damages. The liver is unable to perform its function. The damage is quick and happens within a few days or weeks. Many patients are unable to experience the symptoms due to fast progression. Various treatment options are available to treat the disease and manage symptoms.

Symptoms Of Acute Liver Failure

The symptoms of acute liver failure progress rapidly, and the patient may experience liver dysfunction symptoms within a few days. Sometimes it happens so suddenly that the patient even cannot experience any symptom. Some of the symptoms of acute liver failure are:

  • Loss of appetite: Patients with liver failure have a poor appetite, which causes a stage of nutritional deficiency. Although the exact reason for this remains unknown, researchers believe that it may be due to the increased availability of tryptophan. The patient also experiences satiety due to ascites.
  • Diarrhea: Patients may also experience diarrhea due to acute liver failure. It may probably due to an alteration in small bowel residential time that causes the growth of bacteria.
  • Fatigue: Acute liver failure also causes fatigue. It may be due to malabsorption, low dietary intake, increased energy expenditure, and reduced liver function.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Because of the gastrointestinal changes, the patients may also experience nausea and vomiting.
  • Sleepiness: Patients with acute liver failure may also experience sleep disorders. Sleep disorders may be due to various factors, including abnormal glucose metabolism, the problem in thermoregulation, and hepatic encephalopathy.
  • Tremors: Acute liver failure may result in hepatic encephalopathy. This may cause flapping tremor.
  • Jaundice: The functional capacity of the liver in acute liver disease reduces significantly. Thus, the liver cannot remove the bilirubin from blood leading to yellow eyes, nails, and skin. This condition is known as jaundice.
  • Abdominal pain and swelling: Acute liver failure may also result in abdominal swelling, a condition called ascites. There may also be abdominal pain. The cause of ascites is multifactorial and may include vascular dysfunction and portal hypertension. 

Treatment Of Acute Liver Failure

Acute liver failure is a serious condition and requires immediate medical intervention. The treatment should be in a hospital capable of handling critical care patients. The hospital should preferably have a liver transplant unit. The treatment depends upon the underlying cause and severity of the failure. The doctors may also provide you the supportive therapy to provide your liver the time to heal. Following are some of the treatment options to manage this condition:

Treatment with medicines: The doctor may provide various medications that may help in reducing the symptoms. The medicine also treats the underlying medical condition or the cause of liver failure. If the liver failure is due to paracetamol overdose, the doctor may prescribe acetylcysteine to reverse the toxicity. Medications may also relieve the pressure caused due to excess fluid in the brain. Medicines also reduce the risk of bleeding.

Supportive care: The doctors may also provide supportive care such as parenteral fluid and other nutrition to the patients while recovering from the viral infection.

Liver Transplant: In cases when the medications and other conventional treatments do not provide adequate relief to the patient, and the condition is deteriorating, the doctor may recommend a liver transplant. A liver transplant is a complex process and may require a suitable donor.


Patients with acute liver failure may experience various symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, sleepiness, tremor, jaundice, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. Treatment options include supportive care, medicines, and liver transplant.