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Acute Liver Failure

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

Acute liver failure occurs when your liver is damaged and suddenly stops working properly. This may cause damage to other tissues or organs, such as your brain and kidneys. Acute liver failure can become life-threatening.

Abdominal Organs


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You lose consciousness or cannot be woken.
  • You have sudden shortness of breath.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your symptoms return.
  • You feel lightheaded or are too weak to stand.
  • You have trouble thinking clearly, or you are confused.
  • You urinate less than usual, have dark urine, or stop urinating.
  • You vomit blood.
  • You have blood in your bowel movements.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • Your heart is beating faster than usual.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have new symptoms.
  • You have new or worse swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Ask about medicines and supplements. Some medicines and supplements can harm your liver. Acetaminophen is an example. Talk to your healthcare provider about all your medicines. Do not take any over-the-counter medicine or herbal supplements unless your healthcare provider says it is okay.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol will cause more damage to your liver.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel and lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Reach or maintain a healthy weight. You may develop fatty liver disease if you are overweight. Ask your healthcare provider for a healthy weight for you. He can help you create a safe weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Slowly return to your activities. You may feel weak or get tired easily for several weeks. Slowly increase your activity every day. Take breaks and rest when you need it. You may need to avoid contact sports to prevent injury. You may bleed easily until your liver heals. Ask your healthcare provider which activities are safe for you to do.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.