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Because the liver's functions effect every part of the body, inflammation in this organ may cause stomachache, nausea and vomiting. Your doctor can determine the cause of liver distress with the help of blood tests and a comprehensive health history. Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain could be the flu, but if your liver enzymes are elevated it could be a case of hepatitis A.
The hepatitis A virus also typically causes jaundice. It is spread by fecal-oral contamination, a result of poor bathroom hygiene or food contamination. The virus is shed in the stool of infected persons. Hepatitis A is a self-limiting disorder; you may need only rest and plenty of fluids to get over it. Infection with the hepatitis B or C viruses may cause chronic illness and damage to the liver that occurs over time. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that hepatitis C is spread by blood, putting health care workers, IV drug users and those who received blood transfusions prior to at highest risk.
Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccines. A healthy liver aids the digestion of fats and proteins, regulates sex hormones, breaks down toxins in the bloodstream and removes excess red blood cells. Chronic alcohol abuse taxes the liver, causing accumulation of fatty deposits, which become inflamed, leading to alcoholic hepatitis. The American Liver Foundation states that 35 percent of heavy drinkers develop this condition.
If drinking continues, healthy liver tissue is gradually replaced by non-functioning scar tissue, a process known as cirrhosis. Abdominal swelling and tenderness, loss of appetite and nausea may characterize alcoholic liver disease. Obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are risk factors for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. The disorder generally follows the same course as alcoholic liver disease, however patients may be non-drinkers.
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse advises that many people with NASH do not have symptoms of fatigue and upset stomach until liver damage is advanced.