The liver is the largest and functionally most complex gland of the body. It plays a major role as an intermediary in the body metabolism. Furthermore, as an exocrine gland, it is the organ of bile production. It is also responsible for detoxification and elimination of endogenous as well as foreign substances. It takes part in immune reactions and in the synthesis of coagulation factors.
Hepatitis can be caused by viral or bacterial infections or by infestation with parasites. Diseases of the blood or immune system may interfere with hepatic metabolism. Many different types of medication (e.g. acetaminophen, oral contraceptives, chlorpromazine, isoniazid, halothane, androgens) can produce an adverse liver reaction in certain people. Possible symptoms are jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, headache, abdominal pain, dark urine, generalized itching, fever and depression. Clinical findings include hepatomegaly, abdominal tenderness and liver enzyme abnormalities. Fungal toxins and unhealthy diet may cause liver damage. Alcohal-induced hepatic injury is a common problem. The fatty degeneration of the liver is the most common abnormality observed in chronic alcoholics. In patients with underlying cirrhosis, manifestations of portal hypertension may predominate