The Liver and its Problems

liver positionThe liver is a large, very vital, organ of the human body. It weighs about 3 pounds and located at the upper right side of the chest and is protected under the ribcage. It has both right and left lobes and is positioned together with parts of the intestines, gallbladder and the pancreas, as all these organs share a task in the processing of the food we eat. The liver’s primary function is to filter the blood that comes from the digestive system before it goes out to the whole body; it also cleanses our blood from chemicals and other foreign substances ensuring the integrity of our blood and also secretes fluid called bile into the intestines helping in the breaking down and absorption of nutrients from food. The liver is very important to the human body that without it, life itself ceases to continue within a few hours.

The liver, same as any organ in the human body, is also subject to many diseases. Often times, kidney diseases are hard to detect and only a visit to a doctor can precisely diagnose it. Liver pain, due to the general location of the liver, sometimes present themselves as pain in other areas, particularly in the abdomen, back and shoulders and are also commonly mistaken as kidney pain which is usually felt as a dull throbbing pain in your back. Another sure sign that you have trouble in your liver is jaundice, the yellowing of the white of your eyes and of your skin, which is caused when the liver can no longer filter out the bilirubin in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment formed by the decomposition of old red blood cells in the liver. Other common diseases of the liver are the chronic infections of the ABC’s of Hepatitis which is characterized by the dark color of one’s urine, jaundice, general malaise and persistent feeling of tiredness. Hepatitis is often contracted person to person from someone carrying the virus.

But the most common disease of the liver is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a general term used to describe the state of the liver being chronically damaged. The liver acts as the body’s purification system, with the blood acting as the carrier of all the wastes generated by body processes and other external inputs. If in case the liver is overwhelmed by the amount of toxin it filters, it begins to swell and tries to perform repairs on itself, consequently forming small scars within its tissue called fibrosis. With constant damage and scar formation, the liver begins to shrink in size and becomes hard which prevents blood from smoothly coursing through it and severely impairing it’s function, and if the process continues, may lead to irreversible liver failure. Among the main causes of liver cirrhosis are excessive acetaminophen ingestion and too much alcohol consumption.

So there you have it wine aficionados everywhere, a reality check. The liver always comes first before the wine. And in order for us to continue our passion with all things fizzy and bubbly, we must check ourselves and always keep in mind that, with all things in this world, moderation is the key.