The powerhouse, the industrial complex, the dynamo and so many other names you can give to this organ- Liver and yet it would be difficult to describe this most versatile viscera. To top it all it is one hell of a tough guy too. It has a large reserve or capacity to cope with work overload or damage to it. Most wonderful is its ability to regenerate itself to almost normal functioning after a massive damage This capability is usually lacking in other vital organs.
And did you hear this one. “What kind of officer does your uniform signify?” asked the nosy old lady. ” I’m a naval surgeon” he replied. “Goodness! How you doctors specialise these days!” Well jokes apart there is really a branch of medicine, which only studies liver diseases. It is called ‘Hepatology’ and not liverology because the word liver originates from the word ‘Hepar’.
Liver is one of the largest organs of body weighing about one and a half kilo and reddish brown in colour. The liver has an important role in everything right from digestion of food to detoxification and all the things in between. The liver manufactures proteins like albumin (same as found in egg white) which are of extreme importance to the bodily functions. It also manufactures a large variety of enzymes, which help in practically every function of body for example manufacture and utilisation of vitamins. Toxic drugs, nicotine and alcohol are metabolised in liver. That is why if there is an excessive intake of alcoholic beverages like beer and whisky the liver starts failing. It shows malfunctions like fat deposition or cirrhosis, which is usually progressive and then liver transplant remains the only solution. This is difficult to perform and very expensive.
Liver also controls the overload of blood on heart so that it does not fail. Liver is the emergency food store of the body. Food is stored here in the form of glycogen, which can be utilized in moments of need.
Everyone knows about jaundice or yellow discoloration of eyes or skin. This basically indicates a dysfunction of liver because a major function of liver is to make a greenish fluid ‘bile’ out of the broken down red blood cells. Although the commonest reason of jaundice is viral infection of liver but it could be because of so many causes. Hence in case of jaundice one should try to get the proper diagnosis made and get the best possible treatment rather then indulging in superstitions and quackery. One thing, which is very important to remember with liver disorder is to get lots of rest because this factory works silently, non stop, throughout life and the only help we can give is to minimize its work load. Here is a suggestion about minimizing work – Teacher said sternly to Dennis “you were supposed to write a three page essay on milk and you have written only one page”. Dennis replied “Actually I have written about condensed milk teacher.”