Acute liver failure is loss of liver function that occurs rapidly — in days or weeks —usually in a person who has no pre-existing liver disease. Acute liver failure is less common than chronic liver failure, which develops more slowly.

Acute liver failure, also known as fulminant hepatic failure, can cause serious complications, including excessive bleeding and increasing pressure in the brain. It's a medical emergency that requires hospitalization.

Depending on the cause, acute liver failure can sometimes be reversed with treatment. In many situations, though, a liver transplant may be the only cure.

Signs and symptoms of acute liver failure may include:
- Yellowing of your skin and eyeballs (jaundice)
- Pain in your upper right abdomen
- Abdominal swelling
- Nausea
- Vomiting
- A general sense of feeling unwell (malaise)
- Disorientation or confusion
- Sleepiness

Acute liver failure occurs when liver cells are damaged significantly and are no longer able to function. Potential causes include:

- Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) overdose. Taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
- Prescription medications. Some prescription medications, including antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anticonvulsants, can cause acute liver failure.
- Herbal supplements. Herbal drugs and supplements, especially those not approved by FDA have been linked to acute liver failure.
- Hepatitis and other viruses. Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis E can cause acute liver failure. 
- Toxins. Toxins that can cause acute liver failure include the poisonous wild mushroom.
- Autoimmune disease. Liver failure can be caused by autoimmune hepatitis — a disease in which your immune system attacks liver cells, causing inflammation and injury.
- Diseases of the veins in the liver. 
- Metabolic disease. 
- Cancer. Cancer that either begins in or spreads to your liver can cause your liver to fail.
- Abuse of alcohol can also be linked to acute liver failure. 
Many cases of acute liver failure have no apparent cause.

Acute liver failure often causes complications, including:
- Excessive fluid in the brain (cerebral edema). 
- Bleeding and bleeding disorders. 
- Infections. 
- Kidney failure.

Reduce your risk of acute liver failure by taking care of your liver.

- Follow instructions on medications.
- Tell your doctor about all your medicines.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages. 
- Avoid risky behavior. Don't share needles. Use condoms during sex. 
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis B virus 
- Avoid contact with other people's blood and body fluids. 
- Don't eat wild mushrooms. It can be difficult to distinguish an edible mushroom from a poisonous one.
- Take care with aerosol sprays. When you use an aerosol cleaner, make sure the room is ventilated, or wear a mask.
- Watch what gets on your skin. When using insecticides and other toxic chemicals, cover your skin with gloves, long sleeves, a hat and a mask.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
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