All about Enlarged Liver
The liver is an essential organ of the human body. It performs many important functions like filtering toxins from the blood, helping digest food, synthesizing protein, and storing vitamins and minerals.
When the liver becomes larger than its normal size, it is known as the enlarged liver. It is also known as hepatomegaly.
Although it is not a disease, it appears as a symptom of other underlying issues. For example, it may result from liver disease, cancer, and congestive heart failure.
The treatment of this symptom begins according to the condition involved in it. The physician starts the therapy only after identifying the cause of the disease.
What causes enlarged liver?
The size of the liver varies from person to person. It varies according to the body’s age, sex, and size. There are many reasons for enlarged liver. These are:
Some mild or severe liver diseases may cause an enlarged liver. These diseases include:
- Hepatitis A, B, and C
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver
- Alcoholic fatty liver diseases
- Noncancerous liver tumours
Apart from these diseases, if any fatty substance or iron or copper or protein in an excessive amount accumulate in your liver, you may have an enlarged liver.
Sometimes toxic hepatitis or liver cysts may also lead to a swollen liver.
If cancer originating in the other part spreads to the liver, your liver may become bigger than normal.
Other causes like leukemia, liver cancer, or Lymphoma may be the reason for a swollen liver.
Problems in heart and blood vessel
Heart failure, blockage in the veins draining the liver, and inflammation of the tissue around the heart are some of the reasons for an enlarged liver.
Enlarged liver causes inflammation, indicating the infection or other problems associated with the liver.
What are the symptoms of the enlarged liver?
In case of mild conditions of hepatomegaly, you may not notice any symptoms. If you have severe underlying problems and your liver gets swollen and becomes larger than required, you may see the following enlarged liver symptoms:
When you feel too tired and sleepy, you experience fatigue. You do not feel refreshed even after taking sufficient rest when you get fatigued. Fatigue interrupts your daily activities by making you feel too tired and sleepy.
Some significant symptoms of fatigue are low energy, lack of concentration, weakness of muscles, and pain.
Nausea and vomiting are important symptoms when you have any defect in your health. If you have any serious health problem, nausea appears as the first symptom and makes you alert outside.
For example, you will feel nausea in case of an enlarged liver. When you have nausea, you feel discomfort in your stomach and an urge to vomit.
When you lose weight excessively, you may have an enlarged liver. If you lose weight while being tired and nauseous, you may have some problems in your liver.
You may have an enlarged spleen if there is any underlying cause. For example, defects in your liver can be the reason for your enlarged spleen.
If there is any condition affecting the spleen, it swells by itself. The spleen helps to produce white blood cells and remove waste material.
Jaundice is another important symptom of diseased liver. When you have jaundice, the skin and mucous membranes turn yellow.
Although there are many reasons for jaundice, diseased liver or enlarged liver is one of these reasons. Jaundice is the outer appearance of some defects in your liver.
When you suffer from pruritus, you have itchy skin. It may appear on any part of your body or spread through the body. You may also have pruritus if you have an enlarged liver.
What are the risk factors for enlarged liver?
You may have an enlarged liver due to the following reasons
- If you have any infection caused by bacteria or virus
- If you take some medicines in an excessive amount
- If you have failed to exercise regularly and gained a lot of fats
- If you have been unable to maintain a healthy diet
When should I see my healthcare provider?
You should see your healthcare provider if any notice any severe symptoms like
- The fever has been persistent for many days
- Feeling tired even after eating sufficient food and taking enough sleep
- Skin and eyes turn yellow
How is enlarged liver diagnosed?
When you feel discomfort in your abdomen, your doctor will conduct a physical examination. If the doctor notices any enlarged liver symptoms, you may be recommended to go through some tests. These tests are
The sample of your blood will be tested to check for any infection or the enzyme in your blood. The test will also help to prevent the presence of other viruses.
A small part of the liver will be removed to send for biopsy. This test is done by inserting a needle through your skiing and into your liver.
To check the defect in a liver, some imagining tests are conducted. Some of the Imagining tests are CT scans, ultrasounds, or MRIs.
What is the treatment for enlarged liver?
After the physical examination, when your doctor finds your liver bigger than the normal size and identifies the reason, your enlarged liver treatment will begin accordingly. If the liver has swollen due to excessive consumption of alcohol, you may be advised to stop consuming alcohol.
Some general methods of treatment for enlarged livers may be:
- Losing weight
- To maintain a healthy diet
- Doing physical exercise
- Avoid consuming alcohol
- Controlling high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure
Apart from suggesting any of the above advice, you may be prescribed some medications to help your enlarged liver return to its normal size.
Many conditions are responsible for an enlarged liver. Almost 2 million deaths occur annually worldwide due to liver disease. The common reasons for enlarged liver are consumption of alcohol, an unhealthy diet, blood sugar, and weight gain.
In most cases, doctors prescribe medicines and suggest healthy lifestyle practices to cure enlarged liver. But the doctor may continue the treatment by following other methods depending on the conditions involved in causing a swelling liver.
You can visit the CK Birla Hospital and book an appointment with Dr Narola Yanger to get the proper treatment of any disease associated with your liver.
1. Is an enlarged liver serious?
An enlarged liver may be dangerous depending upon its causes. However, an enlarged liver by itself is not so serious.
2. Can enlarged liver be cured?
An enlarged liver is cured by changing the lifestyle. It may take time to recover if enlarged liver results from severe diseases like cancer or type 2 diabetes.
3. Can fatty liver cause enlarged liver?
Yes. Fatty liver may cause inflammation and indirectly affect the size of your liver. In addition, you may have an enlarged liver due to some other underlying issues.
4. What is the normal liver size?
The normal liver size of a woman is 7 cm, and for a man is 10.5 cm. If 2 or 3 cm is larger or smaller than the normal size will be deemed to be of abnormal size.
5. What size is considered an enlarged liver?
If the size of the liver is larger than 15 cm, the liver is termed an enlarged liver.