The liver is an essential organ in many of the body’s functions. An enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) is swollen beyond its normal size for any reason.
An enlarged liver is a symptom of an underlying problem, but is not a disease itself. An enlarged liver may occur along with other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease that is causing it.
Several diseases or conditions can cause the liver to enlarge. For some people, an enlarged liver results from consuming too many toxins, including alcohol, medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or supplements. Long-term exposure to high doses of toxic substances (including alcohol), medications or supplements can cause cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver.
Other diseases and medical conditions that can cause the liver to enlarge include:
An enlarged liver often does not cause any symptoms. Doctors often detect it when treating a patient for another, unrelated condition.
An enlarged liver may occur along with other symptoms, especially if the underlying cause is a primary liver disease. These symptoms may include:
If you have any of these symptoms, especially if they persist, contact your doctor.
A doctor can diagnose an enlarged liver with a physical examination and imaging tests, such as such as CT scan, ultrasound or MRI. The doctor will likely need to order some blood tests to determine what is causing the liver enlargement. In some cases, a liver biopsy (a small sample of the liver to be examined under the microscope) might be needed.
Treatment for an enlarged liver depends on what is causing it. Lifestyle changes can help when the liver enlargement is a result of fat accumulation in the liver or consuming alcohol. Lifestyle changes include:
Treatment for other causes of liver enlargement depends on the underlying disease that caused it.
If you have symptoms that may indicate an enlarged liver, such as pain in the upper abdomen, persistent nausea and vomiting, or jaundice, contact your doctor.
© Copyright 1995-2020 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 09/07/2018