Cirrhosis Of The Liver

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Enlarged liver, as the name implies, is a condition in which the liver is swollen or enlarged; it is also known as heptomegaly. Enlarged liver is a symptom of a large array of liver diseases, although not an inevitable symptom of any of them. That is, liver diseases often occur without any symptoms at all.

When symptoms such as enlarged liver do occur, the disease has usually progressed to the point where it needs to be taken seriously. Enlarged liver, therefore, is always a sign of a potentially serious risk to health.


Enlarged liver is itself a symptom and is not always accompanied by any other symptoms. Sometimes, however, it occurs alongside pain the region of the torso above the liver (upper right side). Other signs of liver disease may accompany enlarged live as well, including loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, swelling of the abdomen, and generalize body pain.


The best (and only sure) way to diagnose enlarged liver is through the use of medical imaging techniques. These include computerized tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Continued below....


There are a great many diseases of the liver that can result in an enlarged liver, and these diseases in turn sometimes have multiple possible causes. Enlarged liver can be a sign of
fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver, any form of infectious hepatitis, or liver cancer.

In fact, any disease causing liver damage or liver dysfunction can result in a swollen liver, although this doesn't always occur. Underlying causes of the liver disease of which enlarged liver is a symptom may be alcohol abuse, poor diet, diabetes, obesity, viral infections, or side effects from a number of medications, most commonly those used to treat high cholesterol.

Enlarged Liver In Children

When enlarged liver appears in a child, the cause isn't always the same as for an adult. Some of the causes are the same (e.g. infectious hepatitis). Others are age-specific, such as
Alagille's syndrome, which is a narrowing of the bile ducts occurring in some infants under a year old; Reye's syndrome, a potentially-fatal complication of the use of aspirin to treat childhood fevers (which is why doctors no longer prescribe aspirin for such illnesses, using a substitute analgesic and fever-reducer such as Tylenol instead); and overdoses of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A.

One common cause of liver disease in adults, alcohol abuse, is not likely to be a cause of liver disorders in children. As childhood obesity becomes increasingly a problem, so does resulting childhood liver disease.


Enlarged liver is
treated by treating the underlying liver disorder. For that reason, it's necessary to diagnose what is causing the enlarged liver before prescribing treatment, and also to determine what is causing the underlying liver disease.

Diet, alcohol intake, exercise, body weight, and the presence or absence of other conditions such as alcoholism or diabetes or infection are all examined, and treatment prescribed accordingly.

The treatment follows logically and rather obviously from determination of the cause. An alcohol abuser will need to
stop drinking, an obese person to lose weight through a program of diet and exercise, diabetes will need to be treated with diet and exercise and (depending on the type of diabetes) sometimes with insulin.

A liver transplant may be required if damage to the liver is very severe, usually as a result of the most serious liver conditions such as cirrhosis or liver cancer, the latter sometimes requiring chemotherapy or radiation therapy instead of a transplant.

Enlarged liver, whatever the cause, should be taken seriously, as it always indicates damage to a vital organ that -- unlike a lung or a kidney -- has no redundancy in the body.

Enlarged Liver