Where is the Liver?

The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It is located in the right side of the abdomen underneath the lower ribcage.

What does the Liver Do?

The liver is the largest and one of the most complex organs in the body. It has many functions, some of the most important include:

  • It processes  nutrients from our food and makes them available for use by other parts of the body
  • It produces bile and delivers it into the intestine, where it helps to digest fats and certain vitamins
  • It produces blood factors, including many of those necessary for blood clotting (to prevent bleeding) and for normal body fluid balance (fluid entering the body and fluid loss from the body)
  • It removed toxins (produced by the natural process of digestion) from the blood and breaks down alcohol and many drugs
  • It removes germs absorbed into the intestine from the blood.
  • It processes some hormones and vitamins

What Happens when the Liver is Diseased?

A healthy liver has the ability to repair itself and can overcome most harmful things, such as a viral infection or damage from alcohol or drugs. Sometimes the damage is so severe that it destroys liver cells very rapidly resulting in acute liver failure. In other cases, there is gradual destruction of liver cells that cause scarring. This scar formation is irreversible and leads to a condition called cirrhosis (chronic liver disease).

Unless liver damage is severe or advanced, diseases of the liver are often "silent" and many patients are unaware of any problem with their liver.

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