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What Does the Liver Do and What Happens When it’s Damaged?

The basics on the liver as a “Filtering System, Chemical Factory, and a Warehouse”

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body, consisting of two lobes – The smaller, left lobe and larger, right lobe. Many don’t know that there are eight sections in the liver, each functioning as “little livers” and that the liver can regenerate itself – making it great for sharing! The liver plays an important role in many life processes, including:

  • Breaking down food into chemicals our bodies need.
  • Producing Bile (needed for digestion).
  • Storing and controlling sugar levels, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Maintaining hormonal balance
  • Removing poisons and toxins from the bloodstream.
  • And more…

This is why when the liver goes awry, so many things in your body are affected. Any chronic liver disease can cause cirrhosis – Notice, I said CAN, not WILL. Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) can be stopped or slowed if the underlying disease or problem is removed. Decades with cirrhosis can cause distortion of the liver and lead to the liver not functioning properly, resulting in the following,

  • Splenomegaly (An enlarged spleen)
  • Bleeding from Esophageal and gastric varices
  • Edema (generalized fluid retention)
  • Ascites (fluid retention in the belly): Fluid retention can be controlled or treated with a Low-sodium diet (This is key) the next line of defense is Diuretics and then Paracentesis (removal of fluid with a needle… not as painful as it sounds, but not pleasant, so try hard to stick to the diet) **Make sure to ask your doctor about receiving intravenous albumin after any paracentesis procedure!
  • Jaundice: Vitamin B12 reduces jaundice, anorexia, serum bilirubin, and recovery time. (Ricki-tested and recommended)
  • Hepatic encephalopathy (Mental changes from mild to coma): Reduce animal proteins in your diet. Lactulose or Neomycin may also be prescribed. Also, get yourself a medic alert bracelet if you are still getting out of the house alone.
  • Increased infections and possible Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis (infected fluid in the abdomen): Antibiotics may be prescribed.
  • Bleeding Tendencies: Folic Acid helps with anemia; vitamin K helps with bleeding tendencies. (again, “Ricki tested” and recommended)  In an emergency, fresh frozen plasma may be administered.
  • Cachexia (Wasting): This is why I specify for the encephalopathy to lower ANIMAL proteins, not all protein in general…  You need your protein.
  • Kidney abnormalities: (which can cause the edema and ascites)
  • Low or high blood sugars

The more you learn about your liver and the disease that is plaguing it, the more likely you are to be able to slow or stop its advancement. Unfortunately for me, who is a non-responder to treatments for my Hepatitis C (in the past — but  new treatments are coming around the corner!) I was able to last almost my first 30 years of life with my original liver, but eventually it began to fail, at that time, a transplant (removing the diseased liver and replacing it with either part of or a complete liver) was necessary. It is scary, but doable! Just remember what you are fighting for… it is worth it!


This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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  1. Shari

    First: I want to say that I am so proud of you Ricki, I know it has been a very long road and we are all praying that it gets much easier that God will continue to bless your life, Second: This site is awesome Sandy, Thank you for giving Ricki (my Daughter) this opportunity to give back and help others. She is very excited about this site and I must say “GREAT JOB” I think we all need a place to go to get information and as Women to be able to talk to others who understand, I have not looked at everything here yet but so far I just love the colors and the many pages since we all have different problems and issues. So congratulations and God bless, I love you Ricki =o)
    Sandy, thank you for keeping up with my Daughter during her surgery and for all your letters of concern through those days of mixed emotions, we all want and try to be strong but sometimes we just need each other. So again Thanks.

  2. Manoj

    Thank you Sharin and for the information.

  3. Tom Miller

    Hi Ricki, I was looking at your website attempting to find information about liver damage. I know of a woman who is abusing Vicodin and I am concerned about her liver and want to know what she can expect from a bad liver. I see where you have had your liver replaced due to Hepatitis C. You may not believe this but I believe there is a cure for Hepatitis C. That’s right, a cure! This cure is Estriol, a natural female estrogen that you can purchase online. This has shown to control and eliminate the symptoms in several people. Woman #1 who used it had a viral count of over 2.5 million 15 years ago. I suggested she use this product after she had a fever for over three months between 104 and 105 degrees. She reported she was “sent home to die”. After she received her Estriol she reported her temperature had gone back to normal within two hours. With continued use, she was able to do a viral count about three months after she began using it and her viral load was 72, too low for a Geno type. This woman had contracted a stomach virus the day of her testing. She is not sure but she believes she is no longer contagious and the viral count was from the stomach virus. You can purchase this cream on for about 23 dollars a jar and see for yourself. The name of the product I suggest is Smokey Mountain. Others have used it and have noticed improvements such as skin color, reduced liver pain etc. Estriol is only for women. I have not found or conducted studies on male use. Estriol can do many other things as well… I found this product because I didn’t want a woman to die from Hepatitis C. Thought you might want to know about Estriol. Also, I am not a doctor. So please seek the advice of a doctor for treatment. This is for general information only.
    Tom, PCC

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