Your Liver – What it Does
Did you know that your liver is the largest organ inside your body? It can grow to be roughly the size of a football and weighs on average 2 kg.
Your liver helps fight infections. It cleans your blood by getting rid of your body’s natural waste products and other harmful substances, including alcohol and drugs. The liver also makes bile to help dissolve fat, and is a storage reservoir for energy.
Many things can affect liver function. Some liver problems are inherited, some are caused by viruses, and some are related to behavior such as excess fat or alcohol intake.
Most people will not notice that they are having issues as liver disease typically has no symptoms until the problem becomes very severe. Your liver can keep working even if part of it is damaged or removed, as in the case of liver donation for transplant.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause fatty liver. But a growing number of people who drink little or no alcohol are also being diagnosed with fatty liver due to excess fatty food intake. Over time fatty liver may progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
In its early stages, fatty liver disease usually has no symptoms. It’s often first detected by blood tests for liver function and liver enzymes during your annual health exam. But these tests can’t tell the difference between mild fatty buildup and more serious damage. And some people with fatty liver disease can have normal blood tests. If liver function tests are abnormal, your physician may consider ordering a liver ultrasound. The only sure way to diagnose the severity of fatty liver disease is by getting a liver biopsy.