One in 10 Americans will develop liver disease in their lifetime. When a large part of the liver becomes damaged beyond repair and the organ is no longer able to function, it leads to liver failure. This often develops over time, but acute liver failure occurs rapidly and is more difficult to detect initially. The number one warning sign of acute liver failure is jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
Acetaminophen is one of the leading causes of acute liver failure. The drug is safe when taken in moderation, but the American Liver Foundation recommends that you take no more than six extra strength tablets or 3 grams of acetaminophen per day.
"As a rule of thumb, you never want to take more than six acetaminophen in one day," plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon says. "That will be toxic to your liver."
"The most common reason for liver disease, in general, is alcoholism," ER physician Dr. Travis Stork adds.
OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson illustrates what is considered an acceptable amount of alcohol per day to maintain a healthy liver.
Another study shows that if you drink two or more sodas per day or too much fruit juice, you increase your chances of developing fatty liver disease by 80 percent.
"The liver is actually a filtering organ," Dr. Travis explains. "When you're drinking beverages with so much sugar, that sugar will literally be deposited in your liver as fatty deposits. Over time, you can get what's called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease."
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can cause an inflammation of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis, where scarring of the liver causes poor liver function and eventual failure. "Diet sodas can do the same thing because they're changing your insulin metabolism with the added sweeteners," Dr. Ordon adds.
- Learn how the liver fights off infection and cleans the blood, and see the difference between a healthy liver and one that has become cirrhotic.