Liver damage causes widespread issues in the body. The liver is a vital organ critical in digestion, energy metabolism, and for processing and removing the by-products of medications and toxins. Liver damage occurs when the liver becomes injured to the point where it cannot function well enough to effectively carry out its many roles. Liver failure requires medical attention and treatment as soon as possible. Diseases and long-term alcohol abuse are the most common causes of liver damage, and severe damage often develops over many years.
One of the more noticeable symptoms of liver damage is a swollen abdomen. Portal hypertension is a rise in blood pressure within the portal venous system network that originates in the intestine, stomach, spleen, and pancreas. The accumulation of protein-filled fluid-- ascites -- causes abdominal swelling. Many conditions cause ascites, but the most common cause is cirrhosis of the liver, and the swelling can affect the legs and ankles, as well.
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