Role of the Liver

The liver is necessary to sustain human life. It makes chemicals needed by the body, filters out toxic substances from the body after they leave the digestive tract, and it is a storage unit. It is the body's largest internal organ. It is on the right side of one's belly. Hepatocytes are liver cells necessary for making proteins used in several functions in the body. These proteins are needed for blood clotting and to keep fluid in the circulatory system.

Carbohydrates are made in the liver. The liver turns glucose into glycogen which can be stored in the liver and muscle cells. This organ detoxifies the body by changing ammonia from the body's metabolism into urea. This urea goes into urine and flows through the kidneys and out of the body. The liver makes bile which helps with digestion. It breaks down drugs and medicine, including alcohol and other hormones and insulin.

The liver stores important vitamins and chemicals needed for the well-being of the body. Vitamin A is necessary for good vision. Vitamin K helps blood to clot. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption. Iron is needed to make red blood cells. The liver also stores folic acid and Vitamin B 12.

Because the liver is such a large organ, much tissue damage has to occur before symptoms begin. The symptoms of hepatitis are pain in the upper right quadrant of the body, nausea, and vomiting. When the liver cannot metabolize bilirubin, the product of breaking down old blood cells, jaundice can occur. The skin may take on a yellowish tinge.

Fatty liver disease occurs when there are too much cholesterol and too many triglycerides in the liver. Cirrhosis is a condition brought about by scarring in the liver. It cannot be repaired. Alcohol abuse causes cirrhosis of the liver.

If the liver cannot make enough blood clotting factors, bruising may occur easily, or bleeding may be greater than normal. If the liver cannot make proteins, the muscles become weak, and fatigue, weight loss, shortness of breath and weakness occur. If the liver is not working correctly, impotence and enlarged breast tissue may occur in men.

The liver is protected by the ribs. It extends from the lower right quadrant toward the upper left quadrant of the torso. If it becomes enlarged, it will grow down toward the navel and across to the upper abdomen.

The liver is divided into two lobes. It gets a rich blood supply from the gastrointestinal tract through a portal vein. It gets blood supply from the heart through the hepatic artery. A group of tubes collects bile which is used to digest food. This bile drains into the gallbladder or the intestine. Inside the liver are the intrahepatic ducts. The extrahepatic ducts are outside the organ.

Hepatitis is a liver infection. It causes inflammation. Hepatitis A can be spread by poor handwashing and food handling. Infected bodily fluids spread Hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis D goes along with Hepatitis B and depends on it for survival. Hepatitis E spreads through food and water. Vaccinations can help prevent B and C.

Over the counter and prescription medications can produce liver inflammation. Genetic disorders can affect the liver. Cells within the liver produce primary liver cancer.

B: Multiple Sclerosis
C: Cirrhosis
D: Hepatitis C

A: Lower left quadrant
B: Upper left quadrant
C: Lower right quadrant
D: Upper right quadrant

A: Vitamin D
B: Vitamin K
C: Vitamin E
D: Vitamin b 12

A: Bile
B: Vitamin K
C: Glycogen
D: Urea

A: Hepatocytes
B: Bilirubin
C: Glycogen
D: Vitamin D

A: Bruising may occur easily.
B: Cirrhosis
C: Hepatitis B
D: Fatty liver

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