Liver failure occurs when the liver is no longer able to perform the normal tasks required to keep the body running properly. This includes metabolic and synthetic functions. There are two different types of liver failure which are defined as either acute or chronic. Acute liver failure is considered to be the rapid development of dysfunction within the liver without any prior liver disease. It is discovered from patient history, exams, lab tests, and various other information based on mental status. Things such as the rapid development of the problem and the absence of other liver problems in the past are considered during this time.
In contrast, chronic liver failure is usually present in the terms of the individual having cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can occur as the result of many different things, such as too much alcohol consumption throughout the years or because of hepatitis. Hepatitis B and C are both known to cause cirrhosis. However, there are other issues, such as iron overload or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which can also lead to the cause of cirrhosis. Chronic liver failure is different in the sense that liver problems are already present, so the decline of health or overall dysfunction is expected to occur over a period of time.
Liver failure is a condition which can occur within a short amount of time or progress over a longer period. There is no way of knowing how long it may take for the liver to ultimately fail. In acute liver failure, it has been known to happen over a period of only 48 hours. It is a life threatening condition, meaning that when it is discovered, medical action must be taken immediately if the individual is going to continue to survive. Some of the symptoms that are associated with liver failure include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and diarrhea. As the liver continues to fail, other symptoms may arise such as coma, sleepiness, mental disorientation, swelling, bleeding, and jaundice.
Assuming that liver failure is detected quickly enough, there is an opportunity to reverse the effects of the progression. If the liver failure has been happening over a long period of time, the medical team has to do what they can to save whatever is left of the healthy liver. Transplants may be used at this point, depending on how severe the situation actually is. Most liver transplants are successful for patients.