What Are Common Causes of Liver Damage?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2018
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Damage to the liver can stem from many different sources and range from mild to completely debilitating. Some of the most common causes of liver damage include hepatitis, alcoholism, and the use of certain medications. Crohn's disease primarily affects the intestines, although inflammation of the liver may also occur. Congestive heart failure and cystic fibrosis are also potential causes of liver damage. Any specific questions or concerns about potential causes of liver damage on an individual basis should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Hepatitis is one of the leading causes of liver damage and is typically caused by a viral infection. There are several different forms of hepatitis, each of them leading to inflammation of the liver. As the disease progresses, the liver may suffer so much damage that the patient's life is at risk. Treatment options vary according to the type of hepatitis as well as the overall health of the patient. In the most extreme cases, a liver transplant may become necessary.


Alcoholism is among the most common causes of liver damage throughout the world and can lead to a condition known as cirrhosis of the liver. As the damage tends to occur slowly over a period of time, many people may not realize the effects of alcohol on the liver until significant damage has occurred. When symptoms do occur, they may include a yellowing of the skin and eyes known as jaundice in addition to fatigue and weight loss.

The use of over-the-counter or prescription medications is sometimes among the causes of liver damage. Acetaminophen is a popular over-the-counter medication and is known to cause damage to the liver, especially when used improperly or taken consistently for prolonged periods of time. Some prescription medications may also cause damage to the liver, especially with prolonged use. Periodic blood testing may be recommended for those who are prescribed medications that are known to cause this type of complication so that problems can be detected before they become severe.

Congestive heart failure and cystic fibrosis are potential causes of liver damage, even though these diseases do not primarily attack the liver. If these conditions are diagnosed in the early stages and proper medical treatment is obtained, damage to the liver may be able to be prevented. Some autoimmune diseases, malnutrition, or digestive disorders such as Crohn's disease also have the potential to cause liver damage.



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