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Common Causes of an Enlarged Liver

written by: Ms Lisa • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/25/2010

In this article you will learn the most common causes of an enlarged liver. There are many reasons that can cause this condition.

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    Millions Of People Suffer From Enlarged Liver

    There are many causes of enlarged liver. Millions of people each year suffer from this condition. littlebluel An enlarged liver is not the disease or illness itself, it is a symptom of an underlying cause. Lab test, x-rays, MRI and CAT scans are usually used to aid a physician to determine what the cause of this condition is. Symptoms of an enlarged liver can vary from patient to patient.

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    What are Some of the Symptoms of an Enlarged Liver?

    When a patient develops an enlarged liver, they may develop jaundice. Their skin may have a yellowish color to it. Depending on how large the liver has become, it may be evident visually. These two symptoms, often prompt, a doctor to run tests.

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    What Are The Most Common Causes Of Liver Enlargement?

    There are so many reasons for a patient to have an enlarged liver. However, here are the most common.

    • Cirrhosis of the liver. - This condition can be caused by excessive use of alcohol. Cirrhosis caused by drinking usually takes years to develop. However, it remains as one of the main causes of this condition. Hepatitis C is now the number one reason for cirrhosis. Obesity is now becoming a common cause of cirrhosis too.
    • Leukemia is another cause of an enlarged liver. Because leukemia cells are carried in the blood stream, it causes liver damage and eventually the organ to shut down.
    • Hepatitis C is another one of the many causes of enlarged liver. About 20% of affected with this type of hepatitis Develop cirrhosis of the liver. Hepatitis C can be transmitted through blood transfusions. However, it is most commonly transmitted among people who inject illicit drugs, while sharing needles.
    • Liver cancer causes the liver to enlarge. Hepatoma is a cancer that originates in the liver. It usually begins in the liver itself. This type of cancer is also affiliated Hepatitis B virus infection.
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    Can a Patient Have More Than One Cause Of Enlarged Liver?

    When a liver is enlarged, the liver feels soft to the touch. It becomes congested with blood and the patient may feel bloated just below the level of the ribs. It is important for a physician to diagnose the underlying problem. Since there are so many causes of an enlarged liver, the proper tests and medical examination are needed for proper diagnosis. Sometimes a patient may have multiple conditions that can cause an enlarged liver.

    It is important to note that prolonged alcohol use causes inflammation and severe scarring, which can also lead to fatty liver and liver cancer. Since alcohol affects people in different ways, it is hard to determine how long it would take to get to the stage of liver enlargement. However, it does remain one of the known causes.