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What should I know about an enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)?

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If your doctor tells you that you've got an enlarged liver, it means it's swollen beyond its normal size. There's usually another condition that's causing it, such as hepatitis. You have a lot of treatment choices, but you first need to find out the source of the problem.

Getting treated is important. Your liver has a lot of big jobs to do. Just to name a few key ones, it helps clean your blood by getting rid of harmful chemicals that your body makes. It makes a liquid called bile, which helps you break down fat from food. It also stores sugar, called glucose, which gives you a quick back-up energy boost when you need it.

Depending on what's causing your liver to swell, you could end up with long-term damage if you don't get treated.

From: Enlarged Liver (Hepatomegaly) WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Children's Hospital Boston: "Liver Failure."

University of Maryland Medical Center: "Liver Disease: Common Characteristics of Liver Disease."

Riley Hospital for Children: "Enlarged Liver/Spleen."

Merck Manual: "Cirrhosis."

Pediatric Education: "What Is the Differential Diagnosis of Hepatomegaly?"

Yu, Y.M. February 2004. American Diabetes Care,

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on September 10, 2017

SOURCES:

Children's Hospital Boston: "Liver Failure."

University of Maryland Medical Center: "Liver Disease: Common Characteristics of Liver Disease."

Riley Hospital for Children: "Enlarged Liver/Spleen."

Merck Manual: "Cirrhosis."

Pediatric Education: "What Is the Differential Diagnosis of Hepatomegaly?"

Yu, Y.M. February 2004. American Diabetes Care,

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on September 10, 2017

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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