Liver failure is a generally irreversible condition that occurs when this important organ in the digestive system is no longer able to perform its normal functions, which include detoxification, protein generation, and producing biochemicals needed for digestion. There are two general types of liver failure: acute and chronic. In acute cases, liver failure comes on quickly, typically within 26 weeks of the first symptoms, in patients with no prior history of liver disease. Certain instances of acute liver failure can be reversed.
Chronic liver failure develops over years and normally is caused by cirrhosis, a condition that precedes liver failure and turns healthy liver tissue into scar tissue, excessive alcohol intake, hepatitis B or C, autoimmune disease, or hereditary and metabolic factors. The liver is necessary for survival; there is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver function in the long term. New liver dialysis (cleansing) techniques can be used in the short term, but a liver transplant eventually will be needed.
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