Toxic Hepatitis (Liver Toxicity): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Signs you have a toxic liverMaybe you’ve heard of toxic hepatitis, so you may be asking yourself, what is toxic hepatitis? In short, toxic hepatitis is the inflammation caused by the liver when it is exposed to a toxic substance.

In some cases, toxic hepatitis may occur within hours and in others, it could take months for symptoms to present themselves.


Symptoms may stop once the toxic substance is removed, but at that point, long-lasting damage could have occurred to the liver.

Here you will uncover the causes, symptoms, risk factors, treatments, complications, and prevention of toxic hepatitis so you can keep your liver safe and healthy.

What Are the Causes of Liver Toxicity?

Liver toxicity occurs when the liver is exposed to a toxic substance. Because everything that enters the body is processed through the liver, this makes the liver quite vulnerable to toxic substances and that is how it can become sick.

The most common toxic substances that can cause liver toxicity include alcohol, over-the-counter medications such as painkillers, some prescription medications like statin drugs, certain antivirals, and anabolic steroids.

What Are the Symptoms of Toxic Hepatitis?

The liver performs many functions – more than any other organ – so when it becomes toxic, it has unique ways of revealing the underlying problem. Here are some ways to recognize a toxic liver.

  • Chronic fatigue – even if you slept a solid eight hours you still wake up fatigued and lethargic, this is one sign that your liver is toxic.
  • Forms of depression – you may experience moodiness, outbursts of anger, or despair.
  • Bloating and other abdominal discomforts – the liver plays a role in digestion, so symptoms of a toxic liver can translate into digestive issues.
  • Changes in your eyes – your eyes may appear red, itchy, and even have a yellow tinge to them.
  • Your skin may become itchy or you may notice blotchiness that wasn’t there before. Your odor may change as well and blood vessels become more visible.
  • You will have bad breath or a coated tongue.
  • You become sick easier and more often because your immune system has become weaker.
  • You begin to have blood sugar problems.
  • You have trouble losing weight, even with proper diet and exercise.

Also read: Feeling exhausted? The reasons why you are feeling tired and tips for boosting energy

Risk Factors of a Toxic Liver

Risk factors of toxic hepatitis include taking over-the-counter drugs of certain prescribed medications either incorrectly or in high amounts, already having a liver disease, having hepatitis, being older in age, drinking alcohol, being a female, having certain genetic mutations that affect the production and action of liver enzymes, and working in an industry that exposes you to toxins and chemicals.

What Are the Complications of Liver Toxicity?

If liver toxicity is not properly diagnosed or treated, complications can arise, such as scarring of the liver. Over time, this scarring – known as cirrhosis – worsens and can ultimately lead to liver failure.

Also read: Cirrhosis of the liver: Life expectancy and stages

How Is Toxic Hepatitis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will need a comprehensive look at your overall health to determine whether or not you have toxic hepatitis. This means they will run several different tests to not only rule out other possible causes of your symptoms but to narrow in on a toxic hepatitis diagnosis.

First, your doctor will perform a physical examination to get an idea of your lifestyle, anything you have been exposed to, and to keep up with any current medications or supplements you are taking.

From there, your doctor will order some blood tests to look at liver enzymes to determine liver function.

Imaging tests are also useful as the doctor can view the liver for any damage.

Also read: Elevated liver enzymes: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Treatment Methods for Toxic Hepatitis

The first step to treating toxic hepatitis is to diagnose the underlying cause of it. Once that has been established, doctors can prescribe the right mode of treatment. For starters, they may recommend supportive care such as intravenous fluids and medications to relieve nausea and vomiting.

Your doctor may also recommend medications to reverse the liver damage that was caused by acetaminophen. A chemical known as acetylcysteine can be administered immediately and it works to limit the damage caused by the common ingredient found in painkillers. This is most effective if administered within 16 hours of an acetaminophen overdose.

Lastly, if your toxic hepatitis is severe you may require a liver transplant.

Diet Tips to Help a Toxic Liver

Now that you’re aware of the signs and symptoms of a toxic liver, there are things you can do to make it healthy once again. Here are some diet tips to help you promote liver health, naturally.

  • Ensure your diet is rich with fruits and vegetables – your liver requires many vitamins and nutrients in order to carry out all of its functions.
  • Eliminate foods that can be taxing on your liver, such as alcohol, processed foods, refined foods, and even red meat.
  • Consume more carrots and beets, which are natural detoxifiers for the liver.
  • Consume more flaxseeds.
  • Remove refined sugars and artificial sweeteners from your diet.
  • Consume more garlic, broccoli, and onions, as they increase liver enzymes, which promote cleansing.
  • Avoid large meals – stick with smaller meals so less is being processed by the liver at one time.
  • Eat more nuts, which contain essential fatty acids.
  • Steer clear of fatty foods.
  • Avoid eating for the three hours prior to bedtime.


By following these tips, you can ensure that your liver is working at its best and that you avoid a more serious liver problem in your future.

How to Prevent Liver Toxicity

Aside from the diet tips, there are other considerations to keep in mind that can go a long way in protecting your liver. This includes limiting your intake of medications if possible, taking medications only as directed, being cautious of herbs and supplements, not mixing alcohol and drugs, and lastly, keeping medication out of the reach of children.

Also read:


Related Reading: