Written by Andrew Sarski on February 25, 2011
The liver is a critical organ responsible for performing a number of functions for the body, including detoxifying harmful substances, maintaining hormone balances, converting nutrients from food into essential blood components, storing vitamins and minerals, regulating blood clotting, and producing proteins and enzymes. Damage to the liver can result in a number of major complications: inhibiting the immune system’s ability to fight infection, allowing harmful bacteria to remain in the blood, and preventing the body from producing bile which aids in digestion. Liver disease is characterized by any condition that causes liver inflammation or tissue damage and affects liver function. Liver damage can result from a number of factors, including injury, infection, a genetic defect or exposure to harmful drugs. The most common cause of liver damage is exposure to certain pharmaceutical medications, namely anti-cholesterol drugs, also known as statins, which function by decreasing the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver.
Symptoms of Liver Damage
Often, individuals experiencing the early stages of liver damage or liver disease display vague symptoms, like fatigue and weakness, and some may even be symptom-free. Acute liver disease is accompanied by symptoms like loss of appetite, dark urine, nausea, vomiting, jaundice and diarrhea. Chronic liver disease is often characterized by jaundice and dark urine, as well as abdominal swelling, unexplained weight loss or gain, and abdominal pain, although these typically present at an advanced stage.
Treatment of Liver Disease
Effects of liver damage may include scarring, inflammation, clotting abnormalities, obstructions, liver failure and death. Toxic drugs can cause a number of serious problems for the liver, including:
- Elevation in blood level of liver enzymes without signs of liver disease
- Hepatitis – inflammation of liver cells
- Cirrhosis – scarring of the liver
- Cholestasis – decreased secretion of bile
- Necrosis – death of liver cells
- Blood clots in the veins of the liver
- Fulminant hepatitis resulting in life-threatening liver failure
If the liver becomes damaged from exposure to a toxic drug, liver dialysis may provide short-term benefits but there is currently no way for the body to compensate for the lack of a functioning liver. Treatment of liver damage is largely supportive and involves protecting remaining liver function, minimizing further damage and complications, and determining and addressing the cause of the damage. For example, drug-induced liver damage will be treated by immediately by terminating the use of the toxic drug. Liver inflammation can be resolved over time, but liver damage may become permanent. Individuals who have suffered severe liver damage will likely require long-term monitoring and care.
Liver Damage Side Effects Legal Help
Liver damage can cause major complications for affected individuals and may even result in death. Victims of pharmaceutical-related liver damage are not at fault and deserve to be reimbursed for their injuries. Drug manufacturing companies should be held accountable for the dangerous side effects associated with their medications. If you or a loved one has suffered from liver damage and you believe pharmaceuticals to be the cause, you should contact a defective drug attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company. Defective drug lawyers are experienced in defective drug litigation and have the knowledge necessary to help you develop a successful case.