Our liver carries out hundreds of functions daily, yet we often miss the signs and symptoms that indicate it is sick. Liver disease symptoms can easily be overlooked because they can overlap with other conditions.
Liver disease is becoming a growing health problem, especially fatty liver disease, as obesity rates keep rising. Liver disease is associated with a host of complications, and although the liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself, it has a breaking point.
A sick liver impacts all aspects of well-being, so spotting liver disease symptoms early on can prevent irreversible damage.
15 Signs and Symptoms of Liver Damage
Swollen stomach: Ascites are caused by an imbalance and a buildup of compounds and fluids in the tissues that can cause liver malfunction. Therefore, if your stomach appears swollen or you have a potbelly, it could result from a liver problem.
Bruising: A sick liver produces fewer proteins that aid in blood clotting. As a result, you will find that you bruise or bleed easier.
Fatigue: If you’re always tired regardless of sleep and other factors, it could be a sign of a sick liver. Severe exhaustion could point to low blood oxygen levels and waste accumulation.
Abdominal pain: If you feel pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen—below the right rib—it could be a sign of liver cirrhosis. This pain may be sharp or throbbing, and it may come and go. It may even become so severe that you can no longer sit still.
Loss of appetite: If you notice a reduced appetite, it could be a sign of liver disease.
Yellow skin: When waste can no longer be eliminated because the liver is sick, skin appears to have a yellowish color to it. Eyes will appear yellow as well.
Vomiting: Unexplained and persistent vomiting is a sign of advanced liver problems. When your liver cannot remove waste, digestive distress increases, leading to nausea and vomiting.
Abdominal swelling: May suggest a condition called ascites whereby liver malfunction leads to an imbalance of proteins and other compounds that accumulate fluid in the tissues. This is often a signal for liver cirrhosis.
Bruising: Liver damage results in the production of fewer proteins involved in blood clotting, leading to easy bruising. Easy bruising is not exclusively seen with liver damage, however.
Fatigue and weakness: A possible result of low oxygen levels and waste product accumulation.
Loss of appetite: May be caused by feelings of nausea and a general disinterest in food, leading to eventual weight loss. There are often some early signs of liver problems.
Jaundice: Due to the inefficient clearance of a bile pigment called bilirubin. Those affected by jaundice will experience their skin, eyes, and urine becoming noticeably yellower. The stools will also appear lighter in color.
Abdominal pain: Commonly felt in the upper right abdomen or just under the lower right ribs. May present as a throbbing or stabbing pain that comes and goes.
Personality changes: The toxins that accumulate in the body may eventually reach the brain, leading to cognitive issues. Confusion, problems with concentration, and changes in sleep habits can be seen.
Persistent vomiting: Due to ongoing feelings of nausea leading to digestive distress.
These signs can very well overlap with other conditions, so it’s important that you get a thorough evaluation of your body as a whole in order to properly assess your liver health.
Uncommon Signs of Liver Damage
In some cases, there are no apparent presenting symptoms. According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, up to half of those with liver disease show no signs, and those who do often do not recognize them as serious.
This is commonly only in the early stages because as liver damage progresses, the side effects become more serious. During the period of toxin accumulation, those affected begin to experience abnormalities in mental function, disorientations, and severe bouts of nausea and diarrhea. If these symptoms are not addressed immediately, liver failure, coma, and death risks increase significantly. At this point, a liver transplant may be the only option left for treatment.
How Do I Make My Liver Healthy Again?
Maintain a healthy weight
Did you know that maintaining a healthy weight can benefit more than just your heart and muscles? It can also have a positive impact on your liver health. When excess fat accumulates in the liver, it can lead to a condition known as fatty liver disease.
While this may not cause symptoms in the early stages, it can eventually lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver. This damage can impair its ability to function properly and potentially lead to liver failure. However, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent this buildup of fat and keep your liver healthy. So don’t forget about including your liver in your healthy lifestyle efforts!
Eat a balanced diet
When it comes to healthy organs, the liver often gets overlooked. However, this vital organ performs numerous important functions, including filtering toxins from the blood and aiding in digestion. Maintaining a healthy liver involves more than just avoiding alcohol and drugs – eating a balanced diet can also have a positive impact.
Healthy fats found in avocado, nuts, and fish support the liver’s function, while fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients. Limiting processed foods and excessive sugar consumption is also important, as they can tax the liver and lead to health issues such as fatty liver disease. By incorporating various healthy foods into your diet, you can keep your liver functioning at its best.
Did you know that regular exercise can positively impact your liver health? Both aerobic and resistance exercises can increase blood flow to the liver, aiding in organ function. Research has shown that physical activity can also reduce fatty buildup in the liver, which can lead to serious health complications. In addition, exercising regularly can help maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation.
So next time you hit the gym or go for a jog, remember that you’re not just taking care of your muscles but also promoting healthy liver function. So keep moving and keep that liver healthy!
The liver can become overburdened when constantly exposed to toxic substances. One of the best ways to promote a healthy liver is by avoiding toxins as much as possible. This includes cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol consumption, and ingesting chemicals found in processed foods and cosmetics. Instead, opting for whole foods and natural products can help lessen the load on the liver and support its function.
Get medical care if you are exposed to blood
One of the most important steps you can take to keep your liver healthy is to be aware of any potential exposure to blood. This includes everything from needles and medical equipment to blood transfusions and sexual activity. If there is a possibility that you have been exposed to contaminated blood, it is crucial to seek medical care immediately.
This allows for early detection and treatment of infections like hepatitis B and C, which can cause long-term damage to the liver if left untreated. It also helps prevent the spread of these infections to others. So, if you have been exposed to blood, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention as soon as possible for a healthy liver and a healthy life.
Avoid risky behavior
Certain risky behaviors can lead to damage and disease in the liver. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to fatty liver disease or cirrhosis, while the use of illicit drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamines can lead to hepatitis and liver failure. Even over-the-counter medication can harm the liver when taken in high doses or combined with alcohol. To ensure a healthy organ, avoiding these risky behaviors and other substances that could potentially harm the liver is important.
Do not eat wild mushrooms
While mushrooms may be a delicious and healthy addition to many dishes, it’s important to remember that not all mushrooms are safe to eat. In fact, consuming wild mushrooms can have devastating consequences for your liver. These mushrooms contain toxins that can cause severe damage to the organ, leading to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and even liver failure.
So if you’re looking to enjoy some fungi on your plate, stick to selecting and cooking varieties from a reliable source. It may seem tempting to forage for wild mushrooms in nature, but it’s not worth risking your liver health. Stick with store-bought options to ensure a happy and healthy liver.
Follow the instructions on medications
Taking medication as prescribed is vital in maintaining a healthy liver. The liver is responsible for breaking down toxins, including those found in medications. When medication is taken in higher doses or more frequently than recommended, it can overload the liver and lead to damage.
This can result in symptoms such as exhaustion, loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, it can even lead to liver failure. To protect your liver and overall health, it is important to follow all instructions on prescription labels and speak with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements.