Consequences of Liver Disease

We started this discussion by emphasizing the importance of the liver to our health. We have seen that the liver is responsible for critical portions of our metabolism. If the liver becomes seriously diseased, as it does in Hepatitis C, a number of essential metabolic processes are compromised. These include:

1) The ability of the body to store and synthesize glucose, compromising:

  • Central nervous system function and mental processing
  • The overall ability of the body to manage and use fuels leading to fatigue and a general sense of "not feeling well"

2) The ability of the body to store and use calories stored as fat with:

  • Wasting
  • Fatigue

3) The ability of the body to manage amino acid metabolism and to remove nitrogen from the body with:

  • Decreased synthesis of glucose leading to CNS function and fatigue
  • Accumulation of nitrogen wastes with resulting toxicity to many tissues

Human liver cells infected by the hepatitis C virus. Note the killed liver cells scattered throughout the field.

4) Disturbances in water distribution with:

  • Edema
  • Generalized alteration of cell function with resulting fatigue and malaise
  • Circulatory malfunction

5) Loss of the ability to detoxify and eliminate foreign substances

Because of its crucial role, liver disease strikes at the very heart of the body's functions and processes. You cannot live without a liver.

A healthy human liver (top) contrasted with a liver from an individual that died from hepatitis C (bottom). Note the extensive damage and scarring from chronic liver disease.