There are many things that can cause liver cell damage leading
to enlarged liver:
Alcohol consumption, medications toxification,
chemical exposure, mushroom poisoning,
viral or parasite infections, biliary obstruction/malformation/infection,
auto immune disease, hereditary or metabolic disorders,
fatty liver disease, cancer/cysts/growth/tumors,
cardiac/vascular problems and more.
When the liver cells become damaged, the immune
system of the body responds to this and cause
inflammation inside the liver to develop which
leads to the liver enlarging in size and taking on
a spongy texture.
There may be no symptoms at all that this is
taking place. The patient may only feel tired or
have slight flu like symptoms that could be mistaken
for something else. Symptoms really do not appear
until the liver cells become damaged enough that
they are not able to perform certain functions well
(they do about 500 plus functions). The first one
to appear is the lack of being able to handle a
greenish/yellowish substance (known as bilirubin)
to convert it to a soluble form to become part of
the bile. Since, this is not done well, the bilirubin
will stay in the blood and cause Jaundice
(the yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin).
That is usually when people realize there is a
problem and seek medical advice. However,
in some people even this symptom does not
occur until they reach the last stages of the disease.
Some people may feel a fullness in the liver area
or a dull ache may occur.
If you are having any type of problem, you should
have blood testing done to check the liver enzymes,
liver function tests, liver viral tests and the doctor
should be able to tell if there liver/biliary related.
This is just one needle stick. The best doctor
to have if there is a problem is a gastroenterologist
of which your regular doctor could refer you to.
As more cells become damaged, the less the
cells are able to do their functions (known as
liver failure) and more signs and symptoms will
appear: spider like veins (angiomas),
Ascites (build up of abdominal fluid), hormone
changes, Encephalopathy (confusion, disorientation,
sleep pattern changes, hand tremors),
portal hypertension with varices (changes of
blood vessels ballooning outward and internal
bleeding) and more.
caregiver to a liver transplant patient