Warning Signs of Liver Diseases You Shouldn’t Ignore

Warning Signs of Liver Diseases You Shouldn’t Ignore

The liver, a critical organ responsible for various important bodily activities, frequently operates silently and unnoticed. When the liver is in trouble, it can give out warning signs that should not be disregarded. The diagnosis of liver illness at an early stage is critical for successful therapy.

Warning Signs of Liver Disease

Bruising Easily

Because the liver is involved in blood clotting, easy bruising may be an early indicator of liver malfunction. When the liver is injured, the synthesis of these proteins decreases, causing you to bruise more easily or bleed for longer than normal. As liver disease progresses, this symptom can become more pronounced, making it important to seek medical advice early.

Jaundice

Jaundice is distinguished by yellowing of the skin and eyes, which indicates a bilirubin accumulation in the blood. This happens when the liver is unable to adequately handle bilirubin. Because bilirubin is eliminated through the kidneys, urine is generally black. 

High bilirubin levels may be caused by inflammation, various abnormalities of the liver cells, or bile duct obstruction. Jaundice is often caused by the disintegration of a significant number of red blood cells, which can happen in infants.

Jaundice is often the initial, and occasionally the only, symptom of liver illness. If you notice jaundice, it’s crucial to stop drinking alcohol immediately, as alcohol can exacerbate liver damage.

Dark Urine

Excess bilirubin excreted through the kidneys might cause dark urine. It might be an indication of liver problems.

Fatigue

Fatigue

Chronic fatigue and a persistent sense of exhaustion might be symptoms of liver disease. The liver plays an important role in energy metabolism, and malfunction can influence overall vitality. To support a healthy liver, consider lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet and avoiding alcohol.

Nausea

Liver disorders can cause chronic nausea. The liver’s role in digesting and bile production might be interrupted, resulting in nausea and vomiting.

Itchy Skin

Itchy skin might indicate a bile accumulation in the circulation. Bile is a fluid produced by the liver that aids in fat digestion. When the liver suffers damage, bile can accumulate in the circulation, causing itching.

Pale Stool Color

Light-colored or pale feces may suggest a shortage of bile reaching the intestines, which liver issues might cause.

Abdominal Pain and Swelling

Abdominal pain or swelling may indicate liver inflammation or scarring, indicating a more advanced stage of liver disease.

Stages of Chronic Liver Disease

Chronic liver disease develops in four stages:

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is the first stage of chronic liver disease and is characterized by liver inflammation. Various reasons, including virus infections (hepatitis A, B, and C), alcohol consumption, immunological reactions, and some drugs, can induce this inflammation.

Hepatitis may not cause any symptoms, but frequent symptoms include tiredness, nausea, stomach discomfort, jaundice, and dark urine. Early detection and treatment are critical for preventing the development of liver disease to the next stage.

Fibrosis

As the inflammation worsens, the liver attempts to heal itself by generating fibrous tissue. This stage, known as fibrosis, is characterized by the production of scar tissue as a result of continuous liver injury.

Fibrosis is often asymptomatic, making it difficult to identify without particular tests. These studies may include blood tests to detect liver enzymes and imaging tests to determine the amount of scar tissue present, such as ultrasound or elastography.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis develops as fibrosis progresses, resulting in significant scarring. At this point, the liver’s structure has been severely changed, affecting its capacity to operate effectively and resulting in a variety of issues.

Cirrhosis symptoms include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, stomach discomfort and swelling, jaundice, itching, easy bruising, and mental disorientation. At this point, therapy focuses on controlling problems and preventing additional liver damage.

Liver Failure

The last stage, liver failure, is distinguished by significant deterioration of liver function. At this stage, the liver is unable to execute critical functions, resulting in a cascade of health concerns and the need for prompt medical intervention.

Jaundice, ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen), disorientation, lethargy, coma, and internal bleeding are all symptoms of liver failure. At this stage, treatment options may include a liver transplant, medicines, and supportive care.

Causes of Liver Disease

Causes-of-Liver-Disease

There are several causes of liver disease, which include:

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Chronic alcohol misuse can result in alcoholic liver disease, which causes inflammation, fatty liver, and, ultimately, cirrhosis.

Viral Hepatitis

Infections with the hepatitis B or C viruses can induce persistent inflammation, which can eventually lead to liver damage.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

This is a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver. It is frequently connected with obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Hemochromatosis

This is a hereditary disorder that causes the body to absorb an excessive amount of iron. Iron may accumulate in the liver and cause harm.

Certain medications

Certain medicines can harm the liver if used in large dosages or for an extended length of time.

Exposure to certain toxins

Toxins, such as chemicals or industrial solvents, can cause liver damage.

Diagnosis of Liver Problems

Diagnosis-of-Liver-Problems

It is critical to consult a doctor if you are experiencing any of the warning symptoms of liver disease. Your doctor may do the following procedures:

Get your Medical History: The first step is to compile a complete medical history that includes information regarding symptoms, risk factors, and a family history of liver disease.

Physical Examination: A comprehensive physical examination helps healthcare providers to analyze symptoms, look for indicators of liver problems (such as jaundice or abdominal swelling), and assess general health.

Blood Tests: Blood tests, particularly liver function tests, can offer information on liver health by assessing enzyme, protein, and bilirubin levels.

Imaging Studies: Ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs are imaging modalities that assist in viewing the anatomy of the liver, diagnose anomalies, and measure the amount of liver damage.

Biopsy: A liver biopsy may be indicated in some circumstances to collect a tiny sample of liver tissue for comprehensive investigation. This can aid in the diagnosis and severity of liver disease.

Non-Invasive Tests: Non-invasive procedures, such as elastography, detect liver stiffness and provide information on the degree of fibrosis without requiring a typical biopsy.

Endoscopy: If problems such as esophageal varices are suspected, an endoscopy may be done to check the digestive tract.

Treatment

The treatment for liver illness will be determined by the cause. Some typical treatments include:

Lifestyle Change: Lifestyle changes may include decreasing weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and consuming alcohol in moderation.

Medications: A range of drugs are available to assist in treating liver disease.

Liver Transplant: A liver transplant may be required in some situations.

Prevention

  • Get a hepatitis B and hepatitis A vaccination.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Maintain a nutritious diet.
  • Exercise regularly.

The liver is essential for general health, yet it is vulnerable to harm from a variety of sources. Recognizing and acting on early warning symptoms of liver disease is critical for avoiding serious consequences and achieving the best treatment outcomes.

Remember that living a healthy lifestyle and getting medical assistance if you notice any troubling symptoms may make a big difference in safeguarding your liver health and encouraging long-term well-being.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read this article on How Can Apples Improve Liver Health?

*This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical or dietary advice tailored to individual needs.

Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, with a background in Psychology, General Medicine, and English Literature, combining her expertise to provide readers with the most accurate, easy-to-understand, and comprehensive information regarding healthcare. She received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University, and her bachelor’s in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Natale seeks to empower individuals with knowledge, fostering a greater understanding of holistic health and encouraging a proactive approach to well-being

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Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Kimberly Langdon

Dr. Kimberly Langdon has been an MD for 31 years, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place accolades for her Senior Research Project and Score of 98th percentile on a National Proficiency Test.

During her clinical career, she delivered over 2000 babies and specialized in minimally invasive procedures, menopause, endometriosis, menstrual disorders, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. After retiring from clinical practice, she founded a medical device company to commercialize her two patented and four patent-pending medical devices for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening infections.

Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Coologics, 2010-present
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberly-langdon-m-d-41847610/
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine 1987-1991
The Ohio State University Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program 1991-1995
Private practice 1995-2010

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., received his medical doctorate from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. During his medical school training, Dr. Hsu worked with various patients, including adult and pediatric patients with acute and chronic conditions. Dr. Hsu’s interests include neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, and sleep medicine.

Before medical school, Dr. Hsu finished a master’s degree at Harvard University and wrote a thesis on neuroimaging in schizophrenia patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. Dr. Hsu was also a part of the 2008 NASA Phoenix Lander Mission team, which sent a robotic spacecraft to the North polar region of Mars. Dr. Hsu also had research experience on neuroimaging in neonates at Boston Children’s Hospital, another Harvard Medical School-affiliated Hospital.

Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Hsu has worked as a full-time medical writer and consultant. In addition, he has experience writing and ghostwriting books and articles for physicians and health technology start-up companies. Dr. Hsu believes good communication between healthcare providers and patients creates the best results.

Publications

-Peer Reviewed Journal Article:
Kounaves, S.P., Hecht, M.H., West, S.J., Morookian, J.-M., Young, S.M.M., Quinn, R., Grunthaner, P., Wen, X., Weilert, M., Cable, C.A., Fisher, A., Gospodinova, K., Kapit, J., Stroble, S., Hsu, P.-C., Clark, B.C., Ming, D.W. and Smith, P.H. The MECA wet chemistry laboratory on the 2007 phoenix mars scout Lander. Journal of Geophysical Research. 2009, Mar; 114(E3): 10.1029/2008je003084.

-Poster Presentation:
2011 Harvard Psychiatry Mysell Poster Session; Boston, MA
Hsu, P.C., Rathi, Y., Eckbo, R., Nestor, P., Niznikiewicz, M., Thompson, E., Kubicki, M., Shenton, M.E. (March, 2011). Two-Tensor Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Acoustic Radiations in Schizophrenia

Dr. Nicolette Natale

Nicolette Natale

Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, with a background in Psychology, General Medicine, and English Literature, combining her expertise to provide readers with the most accurate, easy-to-understand, and comprehensive information regarding healthcare. She received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University, and her bachelor’s in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Natale seeks to empower individuals with knowledge, fostering a greater understanding of holistic health and encouraging a proactive approach to well-being