Liver gets enlarged and bigger than the normal size for many reasons. Liver is located on the right side of the abdomen and is of football shaped. In medical terms, enlarged liver is called hepatomegaly. It is an indication of problem and enlarged liver is itself not a disease. It can be due to heart failure, liver infection or due to cancer.
A person with enlarged liver will have moderate to severe abdominal pain or cramps, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and yellowness of skin and yellowish eyes (if it is due to jaundice).
Basically liver gets bigger in size due to heart diseases, liver diseases/infections or due to cancer. There are varieties of liver diseases that can cause enlargement of liver. Cirrhosis is caused by increased volumes of alcohol consumption can result in enlargement of liver Alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis infection, amyloidosis (accumulation of protein in the liver), Wison’s disease (excess of copper in the liver), hemachromatosis (iron accumulation in the liver) and liver cysts can cause enlargement of liver.
Any tumor like growth on the liver like adenoma or hemangioma, toxic hepatitis and any obstruction in the path of bile ducts can cause liver enlargement. Leukemia, liver cancer, lymphoma and other types of cancer can cause enlargement of liver. Any heart disease like block in the veins, heart failure and pericarditis (inflammation of tissue of the heart) can affect the liver causing swelling.
Who are at risk?
People who drink large volumes of alcohol, who take more than recommended dosage of vitamins and supplements, certain types of herbal supplements and hepatitis virus infection can get enlargement of liver. In addition those who are obese will have also liver problems, and having poor eating habits can affect the liver considerably.
The doctor will physically examine the liver by feeling it. (Under normal health condition, liver may not be felt, but when it gets enlarged it can be felt). He may request for blood culture, imaging tests like CT scan or MRI scan for checking the condition of liver. Liver biopsy is done by removing small sample of liver tissue for testing for cancer.
The nature of treatment depends on the underlying cause.
You can avoid liver disease and infection by following a healthy diet pattern and avoiding alcohol. Do not exceed the recommended dosage of medicines even if it is vitamins and supplements. Practice regular exercise and maintain healthy weight.