Fulminant Hepatic Failure
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Fulminant hepatic failure is also called FHF or acute liver failure. FHF occurs when your liver suddenly stops working often causing problems in other areas of your body. The liver is a large reddish-brown organ in the upper right area of your abdomen (stomach). The liver filters (gets rid of) harmful substances (things) such as ammonia and alcohol in your blood. It also breaks down old red blood cells and helps your immune system (body's defense) work properly. With FHF, your liver is damaged and will not be able to do all of its work. Harmful things may cause more damage to your liver and other tissues or organs.
- FHF may be caused by an infection, poisoning from certain medicines, or by an autoimmune disease. It may also be caused by cancer from other body parts that has spread to your liver. You may feel tired and weak, and have yellowing of your skin, gums, and the whites of your eyes. Blood and urine tests, a liver biopsy, and imaging tests may be done to learn more about your condition. Treatment may include medicines, plasmapheresis, artificial liver support, such as dialysis, or liver transplant surgery. Having your FHF treated may prevent more damage to your liver or death from multi-organ failure.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- Antiviral medicine: This is given to prevent or treat an infection caused by a germ called a virus. Antiviral medicine may also be given to control symptoms of a viral infection that cannot be cured.
- Clot busters: This medicine helps break apart clots. It is given IV and may be given at the same time as other blood thinners. This medicine could save your life because blood clots in the heart, lungs or brain can kill you. Be careful because you may bleed or bruise easily.
- Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.
- Synthetic sugar: This medicine may be given if the ammonia levels in your blood are too high.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
For support and more information:
Having FHF can be hard for you and your family. You may feel angry, sad, and frightened. These feelings are normal. Talk to your caregiver, family, or friends about these feelings. Contact any of the following:
- American College of Gastroenterology
6400 Goldsboro Rd., Ste 450
Bethesda , MD 20817
Phone: 1- 301 - 263-9000
Web Address: http://www.gi.org
- American Gastroenterological Association
4930 Del Ray Avenue
Bethesda , MD 20814
Phone: 1- 301 - 6542055
Web Address: http://www.gastro.org
- American Liver Foundation
39 Broadway Suite 2700
New York , New York 10006
Phone: 1- 212 - 668-1000
Phone: 1- 800 - 465-4837
Web Address: http://www.liverfoundation.org
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You bruise or bleed easily.
- Your blood pressure reading is higher than your normal.
- Your symptoms come back after treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition, medicine, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have shaking chills and a fever.
- You feel lightheaded or have just fainted (passed out).
- You suddenly have trouble breathing.
- You have trouble thinking clearly or seem more confused.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.