What is the liver?
Your liver is a football-sized organ on the right side of your belly, just below your diaphragm and protected by your lower right ribs. It's the largest organ in your body.
The liver helps you digest food and makes substances your body needs
The liver is involved in many different processes in your body
Drinking too much alcohol for a long time can damage the liver
Locating the Liver
What does the liver do?
The liver is like your body's chemical factory. It makes many important substances including:
Bile, a digestive fluid that breaks down fats
Proteins that help your blood clot
Cholesterol, which your body needs to make certain hormones
Other things the liver does include:
Storing sugar to release when your body suddenly needs extra energy
Breaking down drugs, poisons, and other substances so your body can get rid of them
What is bile?
Bile is a thick greenish-yellow digestive fluid made in your liver. Bile flows through tubes in your liver called bile ducts. Then bile flows out of your liver through a large bile duct. Bile can go directly into your intestines or into your gallbladder to be stored until needed.
Bile in your intestines helps you absorb the fats that you eat.
What can go wrong with the liver?
Problems with your liver include:
Scarring, called cirrhosis Cirrhosis of the Liver Your liver is a football-sized organ on the right side of your belly, just below your ribs. It has many important jobs: To make a liquid (bile) that helps your body digest fat To process nutrients... read more , if your liver is badly damaged by things such as infections, alcoholic liver disease, or drugs and poisons
Cirrhosis Cirrhosis of the Liver Your liver is a football-sized organ on the right side of your belly, just below your ribs. It has many important jobs: To make a liquid (bile) that helps your body digest fat To process nutrients... read more is permanent, but often you have enough healthy liver tissue to keep doing the liver's work. Severe cirrhosis can cause:
High blood pressure within the liver, called portal hypertension
Many things that damage your liver interfere with how it makes and delivers bile. Problems making and delivering bile can cause your skin and eyes to turn yellow (jaundice Jaundice in Adults Jaundice is a yellow color to your skin and the whites of your eyes. Jaundice is caused by a buildup of a substance called bilirubin Bilirubin is a yellow substance your body makes when it breaks... read more ) because you have too much of a yellow chemical called bilirubin, which your body uses to make bile.