According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the liver is an organ that performs a number of critical functions in the body, including:
- Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
- Production of certain proteins for blood plasma
- Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
- Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage and to balance and make glucose as needed
- Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins
- Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content
- Storage of iron
- Conversion of poisonous ammonia to urea
- Clearance of drugs and other poisonous substances from the blood
- Regulation of blood clotting
- Resistance of infection by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
- Clearance of bilirubin, also from red blood cells
There are a number of diseases and disorders that can affect the function of the liver.
Common Liver Diseases and Disorders
Just like most organs, the liver can suffer from a number of diseases or disorders, including but not limited to:
- Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, usually caused by viruses like hepatitis A, B, and C.
- Cirrhosis: Long-term damage to the liver from any cause can lead to permanent scarring, called cirrhosis.
- Liver cancer: The most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, almost always occurs after cirrhosis.
- Liver failure: Liver failure has many causes including infection, genetic diseases, and excessive alcohol.
- Ascites: As cirrhosis develops, the liver leaks fluid (ascites) into the belly, which becomes distended and heavy.
- Gallstones: If a gallstone becomes stuck in the bile duct draining the liver, hepatitis and bile duct infection (cholangitis) can result.
- Hemochromatosis: Hemochromatosis allows iron to deposit in the liver, damaging it. The iron also deposits throughout the body, causing other health problems.
The Liver and Hormonal Imbalance
According to The Hepatitis C Trust, “The liver regulates the balance of sex hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisone and other adrenal hormones. It transforms or removes any excess from the body. If the liver cannot do this properly, there is the risk of emotional imbalances.”
Because of the critical role that the liver plays in hormone regulation, it’s important that you check your liver’s health through blood tests during a yearly physical.
If you’re suffering from a hormone imbalance due to abnormal liver function, hormone replacement therapy may be able to help.
Contact us today to learn more.