Contrary to the another article written on this topic, I must correct them!, the liver is the largest gland in the human body, it is not an organ. The skin is the largest organ of the human body.
The liver is a complex and important gland and is responsible for processing and utilizing all the products we take in through our digestive system.
The small intestine absorbs nutrients as food is moved along the intestinal walls. There are numerous veins which carry these nutrients to what is known as the portal vein which enters the liver. The liver then does amazing things with these various products, it produces bile and stores it in the gall bladder, bile is essential for the absorbtion of fat molecules. The liver stores sugar and when the body requires it, then it is released into the bloodstream.
Alcohol is made by a process called fermentation, sugar is the main ingredient in this process and then, depending on the type of spirits or ale that is being made, other ingredients are added such as barley for an ale, or grapes for a wine and so on.
The liver must metabolize all we ingest and if we drink alcohol faster than our liver can metabolize it, this can create toxicity within the body, or alcohol poisoning.
Almost anyone who has ever experienced an “hang-over”, has experienced a form of alcohol poisoning. If you have ever experience the “dry-heaves”, when you vomit and a small amount of yellowish-greenish liquid is all that comes up, then you have caused your liver to expel its own bile.
If a person continues to drink alcohol in excess of what the liver can process you will not only feel the effects of the alcohol within your bloodstream and your central nervous system; you will also be causing your liver stress and a failure to complete it functions normally.
Prolonged alcohol consumption can also create a form of herpertension or a raised blood pressure within the portal vein from the digestive tract.
This is the beginnings of Cirrhosis of the liver. As the liver tries to compensate for the deficiency of normal liver cells, it will increase its size and cause enlargement of the liver or (hepatomegaly) in medical terms.
The abdomen around the liver will be very tender to touch and there will be a constant dull aching.
There will be biochemical defects as well and because the liver cannot keep up with the absorbtion rate, accumulations of these products will cause a yellow discolouration of the skin or (Jaundice).
Another biochemical effect will be the lack of protein being absorbed into the body, this will lead to fluid retention and swelling in the abdominal region.
Another abnormality will be the lack of blood clotting abilities, the blood will therefore be very thin, and this will cause the skin to bruise very, very easily, and cuts will bleed out profusely.
In late stage Cirrhosis there will be a sweet smell to the breath, this is most common.
There will also be very high amounts of ammonia in the bloodstream and this will cause very grave disturbances effecting the chemistry within the brain.
The effects being hallucinations, confused speech, memory laspe and eventually coma.
The liver is a very important part of the human body and although it is resilient, we must have respect for it.
The effects of alcohol are very detrimental to the liver if we over do it.
To get drunk every night or very weekend will cause the liver to work overtime, and if we continue an abusive pattern of behaviour the liver will make us pay sooner or later.
Think before you drink!
Reference: (Good Housekeeping Family Health & Medical Guide
Publishers: (Hearst Corp. 1979)