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Shocking Case of Acute Liver Failure Caused By a Dietary Supplement

Dietary supplements are generally considered good for health. But this new case of acute liver failure shocked everyone when doctors doubted dietary supplements to be behind it. This rare case was of a young woman, Emily Gross from Amarillo, who was otherwise living a normal, healthy life like most women of her age.

This new year has brought good news for Emily as she received a new liver on Christmas that would save her life.  Before this surgery, the doctors made sure that her body would accept this organ transplant and not reject it. The only reason how doctors were able to save Emily’s life is because of this liver transplant and donation, for which Emily is both happy and thankful to the donor and her medical team.

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The 23-year-old Emily was diagnosed with acute liver failure shared that she was living a healthy life before using an herbal dietary supplement specifically designed for women. This herbal supplement was to support women in weight management, hormonal balance, fertility, and complexion enhancement.

For months, she took four pills every day until after Thanksgiving, when she noticed symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue and the white of her eyes turning yellow.

She was using four pills a day of this so-called dietary supplement and everything was normal until after Thanksgiving when she experienced some undesirable symptoms. These symptoms included abdominal pain, white-yellow eyes, and fatigue but still, she kept on using the same supplement for four months.

Within three weeks after these symptoms first appeared, Emily was diagnosed with acute liver failure at Methodist Hospital in Dallas. This hospital is the closest to her original home at Amarillo where she was shortlisted in the list of patients who needed a liver transplant as early as possible.

According to Dr. Jeffery Weinstein who is Medical Director of Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Services that they met many cases of acute liver failure every day due to other reasons, but this case was interesting and need a medical emergency for saving a life.

He further added that the prevalence of Acute liver failure is rare, but 30% to 40% of cases resulted due to the excessive use of dietary and herbal supplements.

National Institutes of health highlights the emerging issue that many liver injuries occur due to the use of medication, dietary and herbal supplements and with each coming day the rate of liver injury increases and become a severe health problem in the U.S.

Note that, U.S. FDA doesn’t regulate the dietary supplements but there is a warning given for dietary supplement’s use as they could be harmful to the human body.

Dr. Weinstein also shares that he had seen many healthy supplements advertisement as” naturally healthy” but many of them are just a blend of chemical, toxins, and drugs. There should be a proper way of precautions about their use. Also, one should be sure that he actually needs these supplements and obtains them through the prescription of a registered dietitian or doctor.

2019’s Christmas brought Emily a new hope in life but there is no explanation of which ingredient inside that dietary supplement caused her liver to damage.  Doctors want to know the exact names and quantities of every ingredient inside the supplement that she used and which lead her to this liver failure. A liver biopsy was performed on Emily to check the damaging chemicals in the supplement that she used.

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According to research, many liver injuries are linked with more than 1000 different types of drugs, medication, and supplements. In this case, the doctors gave the final decision that her liver failure is the result of using the dietary supplement.

It is still not believable for Emily that a simple, health-boosting supplement can cause her a liver failure and almost took her life. She is currently recovering from this transplant and excited to start her life as a healthy person again.

This case suggests that everyone who is using any type of dietary supplement should consult a doctor for advice. Also, anyone who wants to start using a supplement can take a pre-usage to advise from a certified medical practitioner at any nearest healthcare unit.

For public awareness, an online web resource called LiverTox is developed by the NIDDK’s Liver Disease Research Branch. It provides all the information related to the drugs and other chemical products such as dietary and herbal supplements that cause or induce liver injuries.

About the author

Areeba Hussain

Graduated in Medical Microbiology, Areeba is working as a full-time medical writer for the last few years. She enjoys summarizing the latest researches into readable news to convey the recent advancements in medicine and human health.

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