Acute liver failure


Acute liver failure is a condition characterized by the sudden impairment of liver function, primarily occurring in individuals without pre-existing liver disease. When the liver fails to perform its crucial tasks, such as bile production and detoxification, it leads to liver failure. The primary causes of acute liver failure are hepatitis viruses and certain medications like acetaminophen. On the other hand, chronic liver failure, which progressively worsens, is less common than acute liver failure.

Acute liver failure, often referred to as fulmina such as hemorrhage and raised pressure in the brain. An inpatient stay is necessary due to the medical emergency.

Acute liver failure may occasionally be treated to reverse it, depending on the reason. Avoiding specific diet and alcohol are among the treatments. However, a liver transplant may often be the only treatment available.


Acute liver failure signs and symptoms might include:

  • Jaundice (yellowish skin and eyeballs)
  • Painful upper right abdomen
  • Ascites (swollen abdomen)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Malaise (general sense of feeling unwell)
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Musty or sweet odor breath
  • Tremors
  • Loss of appetite

Acute liver failure can rapidly develop in a previously healthy individual, posing a potentially life-threatening situation. It is crucial to immediately seek medical attention if someone you know experiences unusual alterations in mental state, personality, or behavior, as well as any abnormal yellowing of the eyes or skin, tenderness in the upper abdomen, or any of these symptoms.


Acute liver failure happens when severely injured liver cells lose their ability to function. Possible reasons include:

  • Acetaminophen overdose: The most frequent cause of acute liver failure in the US is taking excessive amounts of acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is known as paracetamol. After taking a single extremely high dose of acetaminophen or higher than advised amounts each day for several days, acute liver failure might happen.

Seek medical help as soon as possible if someone has taken an excessive amount of acetaminophen. Liver failure could be avoided with treatment. Don’t wait until there are symptoms of liver failure.

  • Hepatitis and other viruses: Acute liver failure can be brought on by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis E. Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus are further infections that can result in severe liver failure.
  • Prescription medications: Antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, and anticonvulsants are a few examples of prescription pharmaceuticals that might result in acute liver failure.
  • Herbal supplements: Acute liver failure has been associated to herbal medications and supplements such kava, ephedra, skullcap, and pennyroyal.
  • Toxins: Amanita phalloides, a toxic wild mushroom that is occasionally mistaken for a safe to eat one, is one of the toxins that can result in acute liver failure. Acute liver failure can also be brought on by carbon tetrachloride. It is a chemical used in industry that is present in refrigerants as well as solvents for waxes, varnishes, and other materials.
  • Metabolic disease: Acute liver failure is a rare complication of rare metabolic illnesses including Wilson’s disease and acute fatty liver of pregnancy.
  • Cancer: Failure of the liver can result from cancer that either starts in the liver or spreads there.
  • Autoimmune disease: Autoimmune hepatitis, a condition in which the immune system targets liver cells and injures and inflames them, can result in liver failure.
  • Diseases of the veins in the liver: Acute liver failure can result from liver vein obstructions brought on by vascular disorders like Budd-Chiari syndrome.
  • Shock: Liver failure can result from a substantial reduction in liver blood flow caused by shock and an overwhelming infection (sepsis).
  • Heat stroke: Acute liver failure can result from intense physical activities in a warm climate.

Acute liver failure can also occur for unknown reasons.