A General Overview of Liver Disorders                        

Liver disorders affect the liver, a crucial organ for digesting food and eliminating toxic substances in the body. The liver is the second largest organ of the body and is found in the right side of the abdominal cavity, below the ribcage. Certain environmental or lifestyle factors can influence the development of a liver condition, such as excessive alcohol use or obesity, while other times liver disorders are genetically inherited.

Some of the more common liver disorders, also called hepatic conditions, include:

  • Chronic hepatitis – Liver inflammation that lasts for more than six months, caused by hepatitis B, hepatitis C, autoimmune hepatitis, or drugs
  • Gallbladder disorders – Disorders affecting the gallbladder, often involving the blockage of the bile duct, which transports bile made for digestion from storage in the gallbladder to the small intestine
  • Liver cancer – The presence of malignant cells in the liver, oftentimes found after the cancer cells have spread
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma – The most common form of liver cancer, often caused by chronic damage to the liver (cirrhosis)
  • Liver failure – Damage of the liver to the point of no longer functioning
  • Portal hypertension – An increase of pressure in the portal venous system, which runs through the liver; usually caused by another liver disease

These liver disorders often share similar symptoms when in a late stage. There are more than 100 liver diseases, and advanced liver disease can cause fatigue, jaundice, dry skin, abdominal swelling, bruising, and/or liver spots. Another common symptom is ascites, the buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity, leading to a swollen belly.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or have further questions about liver disorders, use Tampa General Hospital’s PhysicanFinder to find a gastroenterologist. TGH has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's Best Hospitals for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery.