Most of us take for granted the importance of vital organs such as the liver, but do you know what the liver does? Its No. 1 function is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, after which the blood will be passed to the rest of the body. The chemicals that we consume can turn into toxins, therefore it is the liver's job to detoxify. Apart from metabolizing drugs, the liver also makes proteins that are important for the clotting of blood. These are just the main tasks of the liver, so can you imagine the worst things that can happen to your liver?
- Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, usually caused by viruses like Hepatitis A, B & C. Hepatitis can have non-infectious causes, too, including drugs, heavy drinking, obesity or allergic reactions.
- Cirrhosis: is a permanent scarring of the liver that is caused by long-term damage to liver, thus rendering it not to function as well as it could.
- Liver cancer: Almost always after cirrhosis is present, the most common type of liver cancer can occur as well.
- Liver failure: Excessive alcohol, genetic diseases and infection are some of the causes of liver failure.
- Ascites: Fluid (ascites) can be leaked from the liver into the belly, causing it to become distended and heavy. The reason for such leakage is due to cirrhosis.
- Hemochromatosis: The liver can be damaged due to this condition where it allows for iron to be deposited in the liver and in other parts of the body, causing multiple other health problems.
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis: This causes inflammation and scarring of the liver's bile ducts. but this is a rare disease with unknown causes.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis: In this rare disorder, the liver's bile ducts are slowly destroyed but the process of the destruction is yet unclear. Eventually cirrhosis develops as a result.
And what about the gallbladder? If the gallbladder is removed from an otherwise healthy individual, there is no observable problems with health or digestion, but there is a small risk of diarrhea and fat malabsorption. The gallbladder's main function is to store bile produced by the liver. The bile is removed from the body through ducts that are connected from the gallbladder to the small intestines. The function of bile is to digest fats, but otherwise the gallbladder is not essential, giving rise to the above situation. Nevertheless, there are worst case scenarios involving the gallbladder.
- Gallstones: are formed in the gallbladder when substances in bile crystallize. The reason for such crystallization is yet unclear. Gallstones can cause pain, nausea and inflammation, but otherwise they are common and usually harmless. As mentioned, a gallstone in the gallbladder can lead to inflammation and this condition is known as:
- Cholecystitis: This condition causes severe pain and fever, and can require surgery when inflammation continues or recurs.
- Gallbladder cancer: The gallbladder can be affected by cancer, though such an occurrence is rare. Symptoms, which may only be detected in the late stages, resemble those of gallstones.
- Gallstone pancreatitis: The ducts that drain the pancreas can be blocked by an impacted gallstone, resulting in an inflammation of the pancreas.
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