Hepatomegaly – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 13/06/2023

Hepatomegaly is the medical term for a swollen or enlarged liver. It means the liver is swollen beyond its normal size. Your liver is necessary for a lot of different functions in your body. For example, it aids in cleaning your blood and gets rid of the toxins in your body.

A swollen liver can be a symptom of any number of diseases. It could be from an infection like hepatitis, an autoimmune disease, genetic disorders, tumours, etc. Any of these conditions could severely affect the quality of life in an individual, and the medical treatments for these conditions aren't cheaper either. This is why investing in a health insurance plan will help cover these costs is essential

What Is Hepatomegaly's Meaning?

Hepatomegaly, in simple terms, is an enlarged or swollen liver. Rather than a disease in and of itself, it's a symptom of an underlying condition. You're also more likely to have this condition if you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, have poor eating habits, or over-consume/overdose on over-the-counter supplements. In more severe cases, this can also lead to liver failure.

Your liver performs several integral functions in your body to keep it functioning correctly. For example, it filters your blood from toxins and creates a liquid called bile that is necessary to break down fat from food. It also stores sugar called glucose needed to keep your energy levels up throughout the day

Liver Swelling Symptoms

In cases of mild hepatomegaly, you may not notice any symptoms. However, in other cases, you may notice symptoms like :

  • A feeling of fullness.

  • Discomfort in your belly.

Depending on the cause of an enlarged liver, you may also notice symptoms like:

  • Fatigue and weakness.

  • Nausea.

  • Weight loss.

  • Jaundice (Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes).

  • Dark-coloured urine and light-coloured stools.

  • Itchy skin (pruritis).

  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly).

Liver Swelling Causes

As mentioned above, hepatomegaly is a symptom of an underlying disease. However, in some cases, it can also be caused by conditions that need immediate medical attention, like heart failure or cancer.

Your enlarged liver can be the symptom of a short-term condition where it swells up and returns to normal. Or, it can be due to a long-term condition causing slow and progressive damage to your organ. In cases of long-term conditions, it is best to purchase medical insurance so you can handle the recurring medical expenses from treatments and medication.

Your enlarged liver may be the result of these conditions:

Inflammation or fatty liver. This could be from:

  • Obesity

  • An infection (like Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C)

  • Some medications

  • Alcoholism/ Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly.

  • The build-up of toxins in the liver

  • Autoimmune disease (when your body's immune system attacks healthy tissue)

  • Metabolic syndromes (This includes risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and belly fat).

  • Genetic disorders that cause fat, protein, or other substances to build up in the liver.

Unusual growths. These may be due to the following:

  • Cysts.

  • Tumours that start in or spread to the liver. These can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (harmless).

Cancers, like:

  • Cancers which begin in another part of the body and spread to the liver.

  • Leukaemia.

  • Liver cancer.

  • Lymphoma.

A problem with blood flow. This may be due to conditions such as:

- Congestive Heart Failure: A condition where your heart doesn't pump blood the way it should.

- Hepatic Vein Thrombosis: A blockage of veins in the liver.

- Veno-Occlusive Disease: A blockage in the small veins in the liver.

Hepatomegaly Risk Factors:

You're more predisposed to an enlarged liver if you have liver disease. Some risk factors that can increase your chances of having hepatomegaly include:

- Alcoholism: Drinking large amounts of alcohol can be damaging to your liver.

- Large Doses Of Medications, Supplements, Or Vitamins: Taking larger than recommended doses of medication or over-the-counter vitamins and supplements can increase your risk of liver damage.

An Acetaminophen overdose is the most common cause of liver failure. It’s the main ingredient in medications like Tylenol and other prescription and over-the-counter medications. Other common drugs that induce liver injury are NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen.

- Herbal Supplements: Herbal supplements like valerian, black cohosh, and ma huang can increase your risk for liver damage.

- Hepatitis Viruses: STDs like Hepatitis B or C can increase your risk of sustaining liver damage.

- Infections: Infectious diseases that are viral, bacterial, or parasitic in nature can increase your likelihood of liver damage.

- Poor Diet: Obesity is a common cause of fatty liver disease, which can increase your chances of liver damage. Poor diets or diets high in sugar or fat can also be considered precursors to liver damage.

Hepatomegaly Prevention

Here are some ways you can treat or reduce your chances of an enlarged liver or liver damage:

- Following A Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help you maintain a balanced diet.

-Drinking In Moderate Amounts: Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol, if at all, can reduce your risk of hepatomegaly. Remember to consult your doctor to find out what the right amount of alcohol for you is.

- Following The Recommended Dosage For Medications And Supplements: Limit yourself to taking the recommended dosage when taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, and avoid self-medicating. Always consult a healthcare professional before taking medications long term.

- Limit Your Contact With Chemicals: When using aerosol cleaners, insecticides, or other dangerous chemicals, always wear gloves, long sleeves, a mask, and other protective equipment.

- Maintaining A Healthy Weight: Eat a balanced diet and limit foods high in fat and sugar. If you are struggling with your weight, consult a nutritionist or a doctor about the best way to reduce your weight.

- Quit Smoking: Consult your doctor about the best way to curb your smoking and help you quit.

- Exercising Caution When Taking Over-The-Counter Supplements: Always consult a doctor before taking any herbal or over-the-counter supplements, especially if you're already on medication.

Herbs and supplements like black cohosh, ma huang, comfrey, germander, greater celandine, kava, pennyroyal, skullcap, and valerian can cause liver damage.


In most cases, mild hepatomegaly or an enlarged liver is an acute condition that usually resolves independently without the person experiencing any symptoms. However, suppose you have a long-term illness that causes hepatomegaly. In that case, having health insurance can be beneficial.

Consecutive medical treatments and medication can be expensive, so having medical insurance can help cover those costs. In addition, Tata AIG's policies make you eligible for health insurance tax benefits, saving you even more money.

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