Jaundice and the Liver
[Jaundice](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaundice) is a condition that is characterized by a yellowing of the skin, tissue, eyes and body fluids in an affected person. Jaundice is commonly seen in people who have viruses or diseases that have affected liver function such as liver disease, cancer or hepatitis.
The liver is one of the largest organs in the body and has many important functions for health. This includes metabolizing food into energy and cleansing toxins such as alcohol from the blood. Alcohol is metabolized by the body in the liver which then converts it into a substance that can be eliminated from the body. If a person consumes more alcohol than their body is able to process the liver will be come damaged and be unable to function properly.
When the liver is damaged or affected by disease or virus, it will be unable to perform normal processes. A person will become unwell, tired and have digesting problems. People who are alcoholics or who abuse drugs often have a damaged liver as a result of their lifestyle. One of the key symptoms of problems with the liver is when jaundice occurs. Jaundice occurs as a result of excess amounts of discarded red blood cells, or bilirubin. In a normal, healthy person, bilirubin is metabolized in the liver and discarded through normal processing into bile and excreted from the body. In a person who suffers from health conditions that affect their liver, the bilirubin is dissolves into the subcutaneous fat layer in the body which causes the yellowing.
[Treating jaundice](http://www.mdguidelines.com/jaundice) depends on the underlying cause of the condition. If it has occurred as a result of an infection such as hepatitis, rest and recovery may reduce the severity of the jaundice. Dietary changes may also provide benefits to those who suffer from jaundice due to poor liver health. Abstaining from consuming alcohol will also improve liver health and allow the body to metabolize properly. In some cases, individuals may have to be treated with specific drugs.
Significant changes to a persons diet and reducing or maintaining a healthy lifestyle will reduce the severity of jaundice and other related health problems. Many people who experience jaundice as a result of alcohol or drug abuse are malnourished and they will need to take vitamin supplements and eat a diet high in fresh vegetables and low in fats, preservatives and sugars to have a better health outcome.
Fatty Liver and Liver Disease
[Fatty liver](http://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-rehab/fatty-liver-alcoholic-liver-disease/) is a condition that is considered the first stage of alcoholic liver disease. It can be a temporary problem for those who contract it if they make significant changes to their lifestyle to reverse the damage. This includes reducing the levels of alcohol consumed and abstaining from drinking. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of heavy drinkers will develop a fatty liver at some stage of their alcoholism.
Fatty liver occurs due to the abnormal retention of lipids within liver cells. This condition is known as steatosis. Steatosis occurs when a person consumes more alcohol than the body is able to process, which is over 60 grams of alcohol per day. The body retains the lipids in the liver and the accumulation of unhealthy levels means that the healthy liver tissue is damaged. Once the liver is damaged, it will become enlarged and inflamed and jaundice and other symptoms will begin to be experienced.
Cirrhosis is a serious condition that is characterized by scarring of the liver and irreversible damage to the liver. When a person severely abuses alcohol or drugs or they do not receive treatment for other health conditions that affect the liver, cirrhosis may occur. When the liver is severely damaged in this way a person will become very unwell, have severe jaundice and experience abnormal bleeding and metabolizing problems. Cirrhosis is often fatal.
Long term drug or alcohol abuse can lead to a variety of health complications. One of the more serious of these complications is [hepatitis](http://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-rehab/hepatitis-and-substance-abuse/) which is the inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis affects millions of people around the world and can be caused by problematic lifestyle such as in the case of alcoholic hepatitis or it can be contracted through unsafe drug use or sexual contact.
Alcohol is a known contributor to the destruction of the liver which is an early state of chronic liver disease. [Alcohol hepatitis](http://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-rehab/alcoholic-hepatitis/) is characterized by a variety of symptoms including nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, swelling of the abdomen and jaundice. Severe alcohol abuse including binge drinking, dangerous drinking and long term chronic use of alcohol will cause destruction of the liver and may contribute to a persons’ death. Alcoholic hepatitis occurs due to the high level of toxins in the body from alcohol plus poor nutritional health.
People who use illicit drugs are at risk of contracting and developing hepatitis. This is particularly true for those who are intravenous drug users. The most common way that hepatitis is transmitted is through sharing of needles and drug equipment. Research has shown that up to 60 percent of all hepatitis C cases in the United States have contracted the disease through injecting drug use. When a person is infected with hepatitis they will show symptoms such as extreme fatigue, nausea, pain in abdomen and jaundice. The liver function will be affected and if the disease progresses to chronic state, it can cause liver cancer and other serious health problems.
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