5 Stages of Liver Disease

5 Stages of Liver Disease
May 11 09:39 2021 by admin Print This Article

The liver is one of the largest and most extraordinary organs in the body. While all other organs have specific or limited functions, the liver is a super organ that performs innumerable functions. Till date, over 500 functions have been attributed to the liver, and scientists say more may be discovered over time.

The most important function being the processing of all that we consume, whether it be food, alcohol, drugs or poisons, the liver gets damaged by all the toxins we consume. Infections in blood also reach the liver and inflict damage. Many other disease processes, inflammations and diseases, including cancer in other organs, also target the liver.

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Causes of Liver Disease

Types of Liver Conditions

Liver disease refers to a gradual decline in the health and condition of the liver. But there can be different underlying conditions causing the liver disease. Most common conditions include:

Stages of Liver Disease

Irrespective of the underlying cause, the liver disease progresses through the same stages across different patients.

5 Stages of Liver Disease

Stage 1: Inflammation

In this stage, the ongoing damage to liver cells from a number of agents and diseases cause the liver to get enlarged. The person experiences abdominal pain in the upper right area (where the liver is located). At this stage, the condition may be treatable. However, in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver, there may be no prominent symptoms. That is why it’s so important to have an annual health checkup and one that includes liver function tests.

Stage 2: Scarring

If the inflammation seen in stage 1 is left unchecked, the liver tissues slowly start scarring . The scarred tissue starts replacing the healthy liver tissue. The condition is called fibrosis, and is better known as Cirrhosis. As toxins, fat, and scarred tissue start accumulating in the liver, fibrosis can disrupt the architecture of the liver and distort the blood flow within the liver. The tissues that don’t get enough blood supply start becoming necrotic and die. Even at this stage, proper medication and lifestyle changes can reverse the condition to a certain extent.

Stage 3: Cirrhosis of the Liver

At this stage, the scarring is complete, and there is no possibility of the liver healing itself now. The only option for such a person is liver transplant. But the best part is that it takes a long time to get to this stage, sometimes decades even. There are various symptoms that nobody can miss. There is a lot of pain, discomfort, and tenderness in the liver area of the abdomen.  The person starts losing appetite, and whatever little food he/she consumes gives a bloated feeling in the abdomen, which is due to fluid build-up. He/she also suffers from jaundice, with the eyes and skin turning yellowish.  Itching also often occurs from depositing of bile pigments in the skin

Stage 4: End-stage Liver Disease (ESLD)

As cirrhosis progresses, the liver begins to fail.

Liver failure is of 2 types. Acute liver failure happens quickly within 48-72 hours and is generally caused by reasons other than alcohol. Chronic liver failure takes a long time to get there and is often caused by alcohol abuse. The person experiences diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and loss of appetite. The cognitive or mental health also gets affected, and the person feels confused or disoriented often. If a matching liver is found soon and transplanted, the person’s life can be saved; else, ESLD is generally fatal. The person can be put on life-support systems till a matching liver is found, but the chances of survival are grim.

Stage 5: Liver Cancer

Some doctors are of the opinion that there are only 4 stages of liver disease and do not include liver cancer as stage 5. This is because liver cancer can develop any time in the liver and due to reasons other than liver disease (primary liver cancer). Or Cancer in any other part of the body can metastasize to the liver (secondary liver cancer). Also, it can develop during any of the above 4 stages and is not necessarily the last in the sequence. Just like ESLD, liver cancer is also fatal unless a matching liver or part of a healthy liver is transplanted into the body.


Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Hosur, Salem and Bengaluru, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.

Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777 • Bengaluru – 080 6801 6801

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  1. Rajeswari
    May 19, 10:44 #1 Rajeswari

    Yes, the liver is a super organ that performs a plethora of functions. Should take care of it.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sathish kumar
    December 09, 11:03 #2 Sathish kumar

    It is scary to know that the liver can be deteriorating without any major symptoms. Great article!

    Reply to this comment

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