Serious signs of late-stage liver failure include jaundice, a swollen abdomen, mental disorientation, sleepiness and coma, according to WebMD. A patient displaying these symptoms requires urgent medical care.
Many cases of liver failure progress slowly over a period of many years, explains WebMD. The earliest symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and diarrhea. As liver failure progresses, the patient develops jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, and whites of the eyes, describes MedicineNet.com. Jaundice also causes pale-colored stools, weakness, fever and chills, itchy skin, and rectal bleeding in many patients, and it is a sign that liver failure has become quite severe. Causes of chronic liver failure include long-term alcohol abuse, cirrhosis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Liver failure may sometimes appear very suddenly, according to WebMD. In this case, it is referred to as acute liver failure. Acute liver failure can be caused by viruses such as hepatitis A, B or C, reactions to prescription or herbal medications, or ingestion of poisonous wild mushrooms. An overdose of acetaminophen can also cause acute liver failure.
Treatment for liver failure depends on the cause, explains WebMD. When liver failure is the result of long-term declines in liver function, a liver transplant may be required. Acute liver failure caused by an overdose or virus can sometimes be treated by offering the patient supportive care until the symptoms run their course.