How to spot liver failure and what to do for treatment 

Liver failure is a serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when large parts of the liver are damaged so badly they cannot function properly. WebMD explains that liver failure most often happens gradually over many years (chronic liver failure), but there is a more rare form of the condition called acute liver failure that happens rapidly -- sometimes in as quickly as 48 hours. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic liver disease kills more than 36,000 people a year in the United States, and an article in the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Journal says 2,000 to 2,300 people develop acute liver failure each year. While the conditions essentially cause the same reaction within the liver, chronic and acute liver failure can have different direct causes.
Chronic Liver Failure
Chronic liver failure develops over a long period of time, and according to WebMD, the causes include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Alcohol consumption over a long period
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Hemochromatosis (a disorder in which the body absorbs and stores too much iron)
- Malnutrition
Acute Liver Failure
Acute liver failure happens rapidly, sometimes over a period of just days. According to WebMD and the Mayo Clinic, the causes of acute liver failure include:
- Acetaminophen overdose
- Viruses, including hepatitis A, B and C (especially in children)
- Reactions to certain prescription and herbal medications
- Ingestion of poisonous wild mushrooms or other toxins
- Diseases of the veins in the liver, such as Budd-Chiari syndrome, that cause blockages  leading to acute liver failure
- Infrequently, rare metabolic diseases, such as Wilson's disease and acute fatty liver of pregnancy
- Cancer
Symptoms of Liver Failure
WebMD says liver failure is often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be tied to many other conditions, so it's important to understand the early symptoms:
- Nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue
- Diarrhea
But, as liver failure progresses, these symptoms become more serious and require medical attention. The symptoms to be on the lookout for are:
- Jaundice
- Bleeds easily
- Swollen abdomen
- Disorientation or confusion 
- Sleepiness
- Coma
According to WebMD, the initial treatment for chronic liver failure treatment is usually to see which part and how much of the liver can be saved. But if very little is left functioning, a liver transplant would be required. Liver transplants are performed fairly often, and they are usually successful.
For someone with acute liver failure, it is a little different. The Mayo Clinic explains that someone who has overdosed with acetaminophen or been poisoned with toxins -- like mushrooms -- can often be treated with drugs that reverse liver failure. But if those don't work, or when the acute liver failure can't be reversed, a liver transplant would be required.
Preventing chronic and acute liver failure is different since the causes are different for each. When it comes to preventing chronic liver failure, it's important to limit the risk of developing cirrhosis or hepatitis. WebMD says you can do this by:
- Get a hepatitis vaccine or an immunoglobulin shot to prevent hepatitis A or B.
- Eat a proper diet from all of the food groups.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. 
- Avoid alcohol when you are taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Use proper hygiene, and avoid other people's body fluids.
- Don't get a tattoo or a body piercing unless the conditions are sanitary and all equipment is aseptic (free of disease-causing microorganisms).
- Use protection (condoms) when having sex.
- Don't share needles if you use illegal intravenous drugs.
When it comes to preventing acute liver failure, the Mayo Clinic says it's important to:
- Follow instructions on medications to avoid overdose.
- Tell your doctor about all your medicines, because even over-the-counter and herbal medications can interfere with prescription drugs you're taking.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Don't use drugs. And if you do, do not share needles.
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.
- Avoid contact with other people's body fluids.
- Don't eat wild mushrooms.
- Take care when using aerosol sprays. Make sure the room is ventilated, or wear a mask. 
- Avoid getting toxins on your skin.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can cause a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which may include fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Resources WebMD and Mayo Clinic does not give medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.