Swollen liver (hepatomegaly): what it is, symptoms and how to treat


The swollen liver, also known as hepatomegaly, is characterized by an increase in the size of the liver, so that it can be palpated below the rib on the right side. This increase can happen due to several situations, such as cirrhosis, fat in the liver and congestive heart failure, for example.

In most cases, hepatomegaly does not lead to the appearance of signs or symptoms, and is usually identified during routine examinations. Thus, when the swollen liver is checked, the doctor can perform tests to identify the cause and, thus, indicate the most appropriate treatment.

Main symptoms

The swollen liver does not normally lead to the appearance of signs or symptoms, however it is possible that some symptoms related to the cause of hepatomegaly may be noticed, the main ones being:

  • Abdominal pain;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Tiredness;
  • Yellow skin and eyes;
  • Pain at palpation.

In the presence of these signs and symptoms, it is important that the person consult the general practitioner or hepatologist for a physical evaluation and blood and imaging tests, such as ultrasound and abdominal tomography, are performed.

If you think you may have liver problems, check the symptoms you have in the following test:

Possible causes of swollen liver

The swollen liver happens mainly due to the accumulation of fat in the liver, this situation being known as fatty liver or fatty liver, which can happen as a consequence of a diet rich in fat, canned foods, soft drinks and fried foods, or be due to obesity, triglycerides patients or decompensated diabetes. Other possible causes of swollen liver are:

  • Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages;
  • Heart diseases;
  • Hepatitis;
  • Cirrhosis;
  • Leukemia;
  • Cardiac insufficiency;
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as marasmus and Kwashiorkor, for example;
  • Niemann-Pick disease;
  • Infections by parasites or bacteria, for example.

A less frequent cause of swollen liver is a tumor in the liver, which can be identified by means of imaging tests such as abdominal tomography or ultrasound.

How the treatment is done

The treatment for swollen liver aims to treat the cause related to the swelling, and it may be indicated that the person adopts a healthier lifestyle, practicing physical activities on a regular basis, having a healthy and balanced diet and avoiding the consumption of alcoholic beverages. .

In addition, depending on the cause of the liver swelling, the use of anti-parasitic, antibiotic or anti-inflammatory drugs may be indicated, and it is important that they be used in accordance with medical advice.

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