Penyakit liver

Your liver is an important organ that performs hundreds of tasks related to metabolism, energy storage and waste detoxification. It helps you digest food, convert it to energy, and store energy until you need it. It also helps filter toxic substances out of your bloodstream.

Liver disease is a general term to refer to any condition that affects your liver. These conditions can develop for many reasons, but all of them can damage your liver and affect its function. Liver disease doesn’t always cause obvious signs and symptoms.

Liver disease (liver) is a disturbance in the function and physiology of the liver. The liver (liver) is just below the ribs on the right side of your stomach. The organ consists of two parts, namely the left lobe and the right lobe. Liver disease itself can be caused by many things.

Hereditary (genetic) liver disease . Liver problems can also be caused by various factors that damage the liver, such as viruses, alcohol use and obesity.

what is liver disease

Liver function

The liver functions as part of the digestive system, the role of the liver includes detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of chemicals that help digest food.

Liver functions include:

  • Production of bile : Bile helps the small intestine break down and absorb fat, cholesterol, and some vitamins. Bile consists of bile salts, cholesterol, bilirubin, electrolytes, and water.
  • Absorb and metabolize bilirubin: Bilirubin is formed by the breakdown of hemoglobin. Iron released from hemoglobin is stored in the liver or bone marrow and is used to make the next generation of blood cells.
  • Supports blood clotting : Vitamin K is required for the formation of certain coagulants that help blood clot. Bile is essential for the absorption of vitamin K and is made in the liver. If the liver doesn’t produce enough bile, clotting factors can’t be produced.
  • Fat metabolism : Bile breaks down fat and makes it easier to digest.
  • Carbohydrate metabolism : Carbohydrates are stored in the liver, where they are broken down into glucose and sucked into the bloodstream to maintain normal glucose levels. They are stored as glycogen and released whenever fast energy is needed.
  • Storage of vitamins and minerals : The liver stores vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12. It stores large amounts of this stored vitamin. In some cases, several years’ worth of vitamins are kept in reserve. The liver stores iron from hemoglobin in the form of ferritin, ready to make new red blood cells. The liver also stores and releases copper.
  • Helps protein metabolism : Bile helps break down protein for digestion.
  • Filters the blood: The liver filters and removes compounds from the body, including hormones, such as estrogen and aldosterone, and compounds from outside the body, including alcohol and other drugs.
  • Immunological function : The liver is part of the mononuclear phagocyte system. It contains a large number of Kupffer cells which are involved in immune activity. These cells destroy any disease-causing agents that may enter the liver through the intestines.
  • Albumin production : Albumin is the most common protein in blood serum. It transports fatty acids and steroid hormones to help maintain the correct pressure and prevent leaking of blood vessels.
  • Angiotensinogen synthesis : This hormone increases blood pressure by constricting blood vessels when alerted by the production of an enzyme called renin in the kidneys.

Decrease in liver function generally occurs gradually. Usually the liver function will begin to decline when the liver cells damage 75%.

Liver disease

What are the common symptoms

The symptoms of liver disease vary, depending on the underlying cause. However, there are some common symptoms of liver disease that may indicate some liver disease. 

This includes:

  • Yellow skin and eyes, which is known as jaundice.
  • Dark urine
  • Stool is pale, bloody, or black
  • Swollen ankles or abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Gag
  • Decreased appetite
  • Continuous fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Bruising easily

So it can be seen firsthand the symptoms of liver disease that occur in a person. Usually, if you start to feel the symptoms of liver disease, immediately consult a doctor.

Mild liver symptoms

When you feel mild liver symptoms you also have to watch out so that they don’t get worse. The liver is an organ that plays a very important role in the body’s metabolism. The liver also functions to store energy and aid in the digestion of food.

There are many factors that can affect the work and function of the liver. Mild liver symptoms usually appear when the liver starts to function.

Causes of liver disease

Causes of liver disease include:


Parasites and viruses can infect the liver, causing inflammation that reduces liver function.

Immune system disorders

Diseases in which your immune system attacks certain parts of your body (autoimmune) can affect your liver.


An abnormal gene inherited from one or both of your parents can cause various substances to build up in your liver, resulting in liver damage.

There are several contributing factors to the causes of liver disease, so you should have frequent checkups.

Signs of severe liver disease :

Long-term (chronic) liver disease . The damage to your liver increases over time.

The liver is the largest internal organ of your body. It lies under your ribs on the right side of your stomach. When you have advanced liver disease , scar tissue slows down blood flow through the liver. Over time, the heart can’t work as it should.

In severe cases, the liver becomes so damaged that it stops working. This is called liver failure.


What are the common liver problems

Many conditions can affect your liver. Here are some of the main ones.


Hepatitis is a viral infection of your liver. This causes inflammation and damage to the liver, making it difficult for your liver to function properly.

All types of hepatitis are contagious, but you can reduce your risk by getting vaccinated for types A and B or taking other preventive steps, including having safe sex and not sharing needles.

There are five types of hepatitis:

  • Hepatitis A is usually spread through contact with contaminated food or water. Symptoms may go away without treatment, but recovery can take several weeks.
  • Hepatitis B can be acute (short term) or chronic (long term). It spreads through body fluids, such as blood or semen. Although hepatitis B is treatable, there is no cure for it. Early treatment is key to avoiding complications, so it is best to get regular checkups if you are at risk.
  • Hepatitis C can also be acute or chronic. It is often spread by contact with blood from someone with hepatitis C. Although it often causes no symptoms in the early stages, it can cause permanent liver damage in later stages.
  • Hepatitis D is a serious form of hepatitis that only develops in people with hepatitis B. Hepatitis cannot be transmitted by itself. It can also be acute or chronic.
  • Hepatitis E is usually caused by drinking contaminated water. In general, it heals on its own within a few weeks without any lasting complications.

Transmission of liver disease

Transmission of liver disease can be through several media, including:

  • Non-disposable syringes
  • Razor
  • Tattoo needle
  • Tooth brush
  • Items contaminated with the hepatitis B virus
  • As a result of having sex

Mode of transmission due to sexual intercourse includes people with blood disorders such as hemophilia, leukemia or undergoing kidney dialysis in groups prone to or at high risk of developing hepatitis B.

Causes of swollen liver

Causes of the liver to be swollen beyond normal size. Possible causes include cancer and excessive alcohol consumption. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and upper abdominal pain. Treatment depends on what is causing the enlarged liver. 

The liver is an important organ in many bodily functions. An enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) swells beyond its normal size for any reason. An enlarged liver is a symptom of an underlying problem, but not a disease itself. An enlarged liver may coexist with other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease that caused it.

Other diseases and medical conditions that can cause an enlarged liver include:

  • Cancer, including cancer of the liver or cancer of other organs that metastasize (spread) to the liver, especially colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lung cancer
  • Benign (non-cancerous) liver tumor
  • Backflow of blood from the heart as a result of congestive heart failure or other disease affecting the heart valves
  • Budd-Chiari syndrome (blood clots in the blood vessels that dry out the liver)
  • Repeated alcohol use causes liver inflammation
  • Excess fat in the liver, usually the result of obesity, alcohol use, or diabetes
  • Genetic (inherited) disorders that cause fat or sweet substances to build up in the liver, such as Gaucher disease and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Polycystic liver disease (multiple benign cysts in the liver)
  • Acute liver fat in pregnancy (abnormal fat accumulation in the liver during pregnancy)

Fatty liver disease:

Accumulation of fat in the liver can lead to fatty liver disease.

There are two types of fatty liver disease:

  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is caused by heavy alcohol consumption.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, caused by other factors that experts are still trying to understand.

If not managed, these two types of fatty liver disease can lead to liver damage, leading to cirrhosis and liver failure. Diet and other lifestyle changes can often improve symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

Autoimmune conditions

Autoimmune conditions involve the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells in your body.

Some autoimmune conditions involve cells that attack your immune system and your liver including:

  • Autoimmune hepatitis . This condition causes your immune system to attack your liver, resulting in inflammation. If left untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) . This results from damage to the bile ducts in your liver, causing a build-up of bile. PBC can cause cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis . This inflammatory condition causes gradual damage to your bile ducts. They eventually become blocked, causing bile to build up in your liver. This can lead to cirrhosis or liver failure.

Genetic conditions

Some genetic conditions, which you inherit from one of your parents, can also affect your liver:

  • Hemochromatosis . Causes your body to store more iron than it needs. This iron remains in your organs, including your heart. This can cause damage over a long period of time if not managed. 
  • Wilson’s disease causes your liver to absorb copper instead of releasing it into your bile ducts. Eventually, your liver may become too damaged to store more copper, allowing it to flow through your bloodstream and damaging other parts of your body, including your brain.
  • Alpha 1 antitrypsin (AT) deficiency occurs when your liver can’t make alpha 1 antitrypsin, a protein that helps prevent enzyme breakdown throughout your body. This condition can lead to lung disease as well as liver disease. There’s no cure, but treatment can help.


Liver cancer first develops in your liver. If cancer starts elsewhere in the body but spreads to the liver, it is called secondary liver cancer.

The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma. It tends to develop as multiple small sports cancer in your liver, although it can also start with a single tumor.

Other complications of liver disease, especially those left untreated, can contribute to the development of liver cancer.


Cirrhosis refers to stomach tissue caused by liver disease and other causes of liver damage, such as alcohol use disorders. Cystic fibrosis and syphilis can also cause liver damage and eventually cirrhosis.

Your liver can regenerate in response to damage, but this process usually results in the development of stomach tissue. The more stomach tissue you develop, the harder it is for your liver to function properly.

In its early stages, cirrhosis is often treated by addressing the underlying cause. But if not managed, it can lead to other complications and become life-threatening.

Liver failure

Chronic liver failure usually occurs when a large part of your liver is damaged and can’t function properly. Generally, liver failure associated with liver disease and cirrhosis occurs slowly. You may not have any symptoms at first. But over time, you may start to notice:

  • Jaundice
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea

This is a serious condition that requires ongoing management.

Acute liver failure, on the other hand, occurs suddenly, often in response to overdose or poisoning.

Drug liver at the pharmacy

Although cirrhosis cannot be cured, your doctor may prescribe several medications to treat your cirrhosis. Over-the-counter liver medications can help control the cause of cirrhosis and prevent additional liver damage. Or it may be aimed at treating symptoms and complications. 

Prescription drugs, medications to treat the causes of cirrhosis:

  • Alcohol related
  • Antiviral medication
  • Corticosteroids

Medications to treat complications of cirrhosis:

  • Antibiotics
  • Vitamin K
  • Blood coagulation

Traditional medicine for liver disease:

  • Turmeric

The first traditional medicine for liver disease is turmeric. In addition to treating liver disease, turmeric is also capable of treating other diseases that attack the liver caused by viruses such as hepatitis C.

  • Curcuma

Curcumin contains curcumin which protects the liver from inflammation.

  • Gotu kola leaves

In gotu kola leaves have a good hepatoprotector effect for hepatitis sufferers. This herb can increase the repair and strengthening of liver cells and scavenge free radicals that can cause cell damage.

Liver disease is

Am I at risk

Certain things can make you more likely to develop certain liver diseases. One of the most well-known is liquor, which the cancer control and prevention center defines as more than eight alcoholic drinks per week for women and more than 15 drinks per week for men.

Other risk factors include: 

  • Share needles
  • Getting a tattoo or body piercing with an unsterile needle
  • Having a job where you are exposed to blood and other bodily fluids.
  • Having sex without using protection against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Have diabetes or high cholesterol
  • Have a family history of liver disease
  • Overweight 
  • Exposure to toxins or pesticides
  • Take certain supplements or herbs, especially in large quantities.
  • Mixing certain drugs with alcohol or taking more than the recommended dosage of certain drugs.

How is liver disease diagnosed

If you are concerned you have liver disease, it’s best to make an appointment with your health care provider to narrow down what’s causing your symptoms.

They will start by checking your medical history and asking about a family history of liver problems. Next, they’ll likely ask you a few questions about your symptoms, including when they started and whether certain things made it better or worse.

Depending on your symptoms, you will likely be asked about your drinking and eating habits. Also be sure to tell them about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking, including vitamins and supplements.

Once they have gathered all this information, they can recommend:

  • Liver function tests
  • Complete blood count test
  • CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to check for liver damage or tumors
  • Liver biopsy, which involves taking a small sample of your liver and checking it for damage or disease.

How they are treated

Many liver diseases are chronic, meaning they last for years and may never go away. But even chronic liver disease can usually be managed.

For some people, lifestyle changes are enough to keep symptoms at bay. This may include:

  • Limit alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Drink more water
  • Adopt a liver friendly, heart-friendly diet that includes plenty of fiber while reducing fat, sugar and salt.

Depending on the specific liver condition you have, your health care provider may recommend other diet changes. For example, people living with Wilson’s disease should limit foods that contain copper, including shellfish, mushrooms, and nuts.

Depending on the condition affecting your liver, you may also need medical treatment, such as:

  • Antiviral drugs to treat hepatitis
  • Steroids to reduce liver inflammation
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Antibiotics
  • Medicines to target specific symptoms, such as itchy skin
  • Vitamins and supplements to improve liver health.

In some cases, you may need surgery to remove all or part of your liver. Generally, liver transplants are only performed when other options have failed.

What are the prospects?

Many liver diseases can be treated if you catch them early. However, if left untreated, they can cause permanent damage. If you have symptoms of liver problems or are at risk for developing them, be sure to consult your healthcare provider for regular check-ups and testing, if necessary.


  1. Mayo clinic: Liver diseases:
  2. Medicinenet: Liver diseases:
  3. Medbroadcast: Liver disorders:

Mahendra Pratama

Mahendra Pratama, seorang ahli gizi berusia 52 tahun dan bekerja di Handal Dok sebagai penulis/editor. Ia lulus dari Universitas Wijaya Kusuma sekitar 25 tahun yang lalu. Dia adalah mahasiswa yang berprestasi. Mahendra sering menulis artikel tentang nutrisi atau cara menjaga kesehatan. Dia memiliki hobi - yoga.

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