Liver Failure and the Fatty Liver Diet

Liver Failure and the Fatty Liver Diet
Learn about liver failure and its relationship to the fatty liver diet.

The term liver failure refers to serious damage to liver function caused by a disorder or substance that impairs the liver. In general, the fatty liver diet can help in its treatment.


  • Jaundice: the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow due to excess bilirubin in the blood as the liver cannot process it.
  • Ascites: fluid retention in the abdomen that can cause swelling in that area.
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy: it occurs when toxic substances accumulate in the blood because the liver cannot eliminate them, consequently brain function deteriorates.
  • General discomfort, nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite.
  • Breath with smell of wet mold.
  • Bleeding and the presence of bruises because the liver does not synthesize the proteins necessary for blood clotting.
  • Decrease in blood pressure, hypotension and shock, caused by blood loss
  • Hepatorenal syndrome, i.e., renal failure develops. Less urine is produced and excreted giving rise to the accumulation of toxic substances in the blood.
  • Difficulty in breathing (long-term).


It consists of the accelerated loss of liver function in days or weeks. It usually occurs in individuals who do not have liver disease.

When suffering from this insufficiency, the patient can become seriously ill within a few days. This is a medical emergency, so it is important that people go to a liver transplant center to be evaluated there.

Acute liver failure is called fulminant liver failure, and it can lead to consequences such as excessive bleeding and increased brain pressure. Depending on the case, with treatment, acute liver failure can be reversed; in other conditions, liver transplantation may be necessary.


If the failure develops over months or years, we speak of chronic liver failure. The deterioration is usually gradual until a dramatic situation occurs, for example: vomiting blood.

Chronic liver failure occurs more often than acute liver failure.


Generally speaking, liver failure arises as a consequence of a liver disorder. For example:

  • Hepatitis B or C.
  • Cirrhosis.
  • Alcoholic Hepatopathy, that is, liver damage resulting from high and prolonged alcohol intake. 
  • High intake of drugs such as paracetamol that can lead to intoxication.


The diagnosis requires medical evaluation and blood tests. First, the doctor will rely on the symptoms and the examination, then the blood test to evaluate the functioning of the liver.

The doctor asks the patient questions to clarify the substances he or she has consumed, including drugs, supplements or herbal products.

In addition to the blood tests, the doctor may order urine tests and a chest X-ray.

It is important to see a doctor when liver failure is suspected, as it is a serious condition and it is necessary to specify whether or not you have it.

Liver failure can be lethal if not treated in time or if the disorder is progressive. It may even be irreversible even with treatment. 

As a result of liver failure some people die from kidney failure, others develop liver cancer.


The treatment varies according to the origin of the insufficiency and the patient’s symptomatology; on the other hand, the urgency of the same is determined depending on whether it is acute or chronic insufficiency, although it is generally the same treatment.

  • Changes in the diet: it is recommended to limit the consumption of sodium, to avoid the retention of liquid in the abdomen and alcohol consumption should be completely avoided. These nutritional suggestions, generally indicated by medical experts, coincide with the diet for fatty liver.
  • Acute liver failure: treated as an emergency. It is appropriate for the patient to go to a liver transplant center and be cared for in an intensive care unit.
  • Liver transplantation (depending on the case).

Eugenia Jimenez Alvarez, review

Assistant to the coordination of Fundahigado America

Degree in Biomedical Sciences

Daniela Malavé Montilla, editorial staff

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Génesis is 3 years old and was born in Costa Rica with a congenital liver disease.


Elías is a young adolescent with an advanced liver disease.


Jin received a segment of his father´s liver in May 2015.