The liver is one of the largest organs in the human body, second only to the skin. The liver is also one of the most multi-functional organs, performing dozens of tasks that are necessary to human health. The liver aids in the absorption of food. The liver also removes a number of toxic substances from the body.

Usually, an adult liver is approximately the size of a small football. Sometimes, however, the liver becomes enlarged. This is known as hepatomegaly.

An enlarged liver is not a disease. It’s a sign of an underlying problem. When an enlarged liver is present, prompt medical attention is needed.

Treatment of an enlarged liver depends on the cause–and the causes can be many. In fact, there are more than 90 known causes of an enlarged liver. The most common include:

Alcoholic liver cirrhosis Chronic hepatitis B Fatty liver (see Liver symptoms) Hepatitis Hepatitis A Hepatitis B Hepatitis C Liver cirrhosis Liver cysts Liver infection Polycystic liver disease Viral hepatitis

Certain forms of cancer, notably leukemia, and some common infections such as malaria and mononucleosis can also cause an enlarged liver.

There are usually no symptoms associated with a slightly enlarged liver, but a grossly enlarged liver causes a feeling of discomfort that some people describe as “feeling too full.” Someone with an enlarged liver may also suffer jaundice, ascites (fluid in the abdomen), cholestasis (failure of bile to flow from the liver through the bile ducts), and portal hypertension (High blood pressure in the portal venous system that carries blood from the intestine, spleen and pancreas to the liver).

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