What Was Steve Harwell Cause of Death? What to Know About Acute Liver Failure

Steve Harwell was the lead singer of the American rock band Smash Mouth, best known for their hit songs “All-Star”, “Walkin’ on the Sun” and “I’m a Believer”. He was born in California in 1967 and started his musical career in the rap group F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech) before switching to alternative rock in the mid-1990s.

He formed Smash Mouth with his friends Kevin Coleman, Greg Camp, and Paul De Lisle and achieved commercial success with their second album Astro Lounge in 1999. Harwell’s distinctive, raspy rap-singing voice was instantly recognizable and several of Smash Mouth’s songs became viral sensations, especially after featuring in the animated movie Shrek in 2001.

But what was the cause of his death? According to his manager, Robert Hayes, who confirmed the news to NBC News and other outlets, Harwell died from acute liver failure. He added that Harwell “had many health issues” and was receiving hospice care at his home.

What Was Steve Harwell Cause of Death?

Steve Harwell died at the age of 56 on Sept. 4, 2023, due to acute liver failure. His band’s manager, Robert Hayes, told NBC News that Harwell “had many health issues” and was moved to hospice care at his home, where he passed away “surrounded by family and friends”. Hayes also said that Harwell’s cause of death was liver failure caused by years of alcohol abuse.

Harwell had struggled with alcoholism for a long time and was diagnosed with the heart ailment cardiomyopathy in 2013. He also suffered from a neurological condition that affected his memory and speech. He retired from performing with the band in 2021 after appearing intoxicated at a show in New York, where he slurred his words and yelled at the audience.

Steve Harwell, who sang for Smash Mouth, has died at the age of 56:

What is Acute Liver Failure and What Are Its Symptoms?

Acute liver failure is a rare but life-threatening condition in which the liver loses its ability to function normally. The liver is a vital organ that performs many functions, such as filtering toxins from the blood, producing bile, regulating blood sugar and clotting factors, and synthesizing proteins and hormones.

Acute liver failure can occur suddenly, usually within days or weeks, and can cause serious complications such as bleeding, infection, brain swelling, kidney failure, and coma. Some of the symptoms of acute liver failure include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Confusion and sleepiness
  • Bleeding or bruising easily
  • Dark urine and pale stools

Acute liver failure requires immediate medical attention and often a liver transplant to survive.

What Are the Possible Causes of Acute Liver Failure?

There are many possible causes of acute liver failure, but some of the most common ones are:

  • Drug overdose or toxicity: This can be caused by taking too much of certain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), or by exposure to harmful substances, such as mushrooms, pesticides, or industrial chemicals.
  • Viral hepatitis: This is an infection of the liver caused by viruses such as hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E. Some of these viruses can be transmitted through contaminated food or water, blood transfusions, sexual contact, or sharing needles.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis: This is a condition in which the immune system attacks the liver cells, causing inflammation and damage. The exact cause of autoimmune hepatitis is unknown, but it may be triggered by genetic factors, infections, or drugs.
  • Metabolic disorders: These are inherited conditions that affect the metabolism of certain substances in the body, such as iron, copper or fat. Some examples are Wilson’s disease, hemochromatosis, and fatty liver disease.
  • Cancer: This can be caused by tumors that originate in the liver (primary liver cancer) or spread from other parts of the body (secondary liver cancer). Cancer can interfere with the blood flow and function of the liver.

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What Are the Risk Factors for Acute Liver Failure?

Some of the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing acute liver failure are:

  • Alcohol abuse: Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the liver cells and cause inflammation, scarring, and cirrhosis. Alcohol can also interact with certain drugs and toxins that can harm the liver.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of fatty liver disease, which is a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver cells. Fatty liver disease can progress to inflammation, fibrosis, and cirrhosis if left untreated.
  • Diabetes: Having high blood sugar levels can impair the function of the liver and increase the risk of fatty liver disease. Diabetes can also affect the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the liver.
  • Hepatitis infection: Having chronic hepatitis B or C infection can cause chronic inflammation and damage to the liver cells over time. This can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and acute liver failure.
  • Genetic factors: Having a family history of certain metabolic disorders or autoimmune diseases that affect the liver can increase the risk of developing acute liver failure.

How is Acute Liver Failure Diagnosed and Treated?

Acute liver failure is diagnosed based on the patient’s medical history, physical examination, blood tests, and imaging tests. Blood tests can measure the levels of enzymes, proteins, bilirubin, and clotting factors that indicate how well the liver is functioning. Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI can show the size, shape, and structure of the liver and detect any abnormalities or tumors.

The treatment of acute liver failure depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. The main goals are to prevent further damage to the liver, treat any complications, and support the liver function until it recovers or a transplant is available. Some of the treatment options are:

  • Medications: These can include drugs that counteract the effects of toxins, such as N-acetylcysteine for acetaminophen overdose, or antiviral drugs for hepatitis infection. Other drugs can help reduce the pressure in the brain, prevent bleeding, fight infections, and provide nutritional support.
  • Liver transplant: This is a surgical procedure that involves replacing the damaged liver with a healthy one from a donor. A liver transplant is often the only option for patients with irreversible liver failure or those who do not respond to other treatments. However, finding a suitable donor and undergoing the surgery can be challenging and risky.
  • Supportive care: This can include monitoring the vital signs, providing oxygen, fluids, and blood transfusions, and managing pain and discomfort. Supportive care can also involve using devices such as dialysis machines or artificial livers to temporarily take over some of the functions of the liver until a transplant is possible.

How Can Acute Liver Failure Be Prevented?

Acute liver failure can be prevented by taking some measures to protect and maintain the health of the liver. Some of these measures are:

  • Avoiding alcohol or drinking in moderation: Alcohol can damage the liver cells and interfere with their function. It is recommended to limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  • Following the directions for medications and supplements: Taking too much or mixing certain medications and supplements can cause liver toxicity and failure. It is important to follow the instructions on the labels and consult with a doctor before taking any new or unfamiliar drugs.
  • Avoiding exposure to toxins: Some substances such as mushrooms, pesticides, or industrial chemicals can be harmful to the liver if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. It is advisable to wear protective gear, wash hands and food thoroughly, and store and dispose of these substances safely.
  • Getting vaccinated for hepatitis: Hepatitis A and B are preventable diseases that can cause acute liver failure if left untreated. There are safe and effective vaccines available for both types of hepatitis that can protect against infection.
  • Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly: A balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help prevent obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. Regular physical activity can also help maintain a healthy weight, lower blood sugar levels, and improve blood circulation to the liver.
  • Getting regular check-ups and screenings: Having routine blood tests and imaging tests can help detect any signs of liver disease or damage early and prevent them from progressing to acute liver failure. People who have risk factors such as alcohol abuse, hepatitis infection, metabolic disorders or family history should get tested more frequently.


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