The liver is an important organ located in the upper quadrant of the torso. It is the largest solid organ in the body and is responsible for filtering out toxins and cleaning the blood. It is impossible to live without the liver, which is why you need to take care of it as best as you can. Recognizing the early signs of liver damage is important as well and will definitely improve your chances of recovery.
There are many diseases and conditions which affect this organ – hepatitis, cirrhosis and fatty liver disease are some of the worst. The early symptoms of liver damage are not very specific and are easily overlooked until they cause bigger problems. Continue reading below to see a list of the most common early signs of liver damage and visit a doctor as soon as you notice them.
Nausea and other digestive problems
Nausea and digestive problems are usually caused by food poisoning, motion sickness, vertigo, migraines, early pregnancy or depression. However, they are also symptoms of kidney or liver damage. People suffering from liver problems have reported feeling nauseous constantly, which is probably caused by the reduced ability of the liver to clean the blood of toxins. Metabolism and digestive changes can also cause nausea, so make sure to visit a doctor if it doesn’t go away in a few days.
Fatigue can be caused by lack of rest, but it can also occur due to liver damage. When the liver is damaged, the body works harder and needs more rest. When the function of the liver is impaired, it can’t clean the blood and tissues of toxins properly, which accumulate in your bloodstream and make you feel tired all the time.
Loss of appetite
A damaged liver won’t be able to produce much bile, resulting in incorrectly digested food, loss of appetite and loss of weight. If this condition goes on for a while, it should be checked by a doctor or it can have serious consequences.
The liver plays a big part in the process of digestion as it produces bile, which helps the small intestine absorb nutrients from food properly. Reduced bile production can result in dyspepsia and diarrhea as well as other digestive problems such as IBS, bloating, constipation, gallstones and alcohol intolerance.
A change in your urine’s color
When you drink the proper amount of water throughout the day, the color of the urine is brighter and more transparent. If your urine has suddenly changed its color and is darker than usual, it may be caused by liver damage. The increased levels of bilirubin in your blood can make your urine dark brown, amber or orange. The levels of bilirubin usually increase due to some kind of liver problem. Of course, dark urine can also be a sign of dehydration, urinary tract infections, side-effects of some drugs, kidney abnormalities and other problems, so it is best to consult a doctor.
Stool color changes
A damaged liver will result in less bile production and a change in your stool color. The usual color of the stool is brown, but it may turn to pale, yellow-colored or gray due to liver problems. Usually, the change in stool color is nothing to concern yourself about, but if it happens often, talk to a doctor.
Jaundice is a liver disease that makes the skin, tongue, fingertips and eyes yellow. This occurs due to the increased levels of bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice can also be a sign of pancreas or gallbladder problems, and needs to be checked by a doctor immediately.
Pain, cramps and bloating can be a sign of ascites and liver problems. Ascites is a condition which occurs when fluid builds up in the abdominal cavity, resulting in liver damage or cirrhosis. Liver disease can also raise your blood pressure, so make sure to visit a doctor if you’re experiencing these abdominal problems.
A damaged liver may cause fluid retention in your feet and ankles. The condition is similar to ascites, but the difference is in the fluid buildup in the lower extremities. Fluid retention can also be caused by hormonal imbalance, kidney problems, lymphatic disease and heart failure.
Liver damage may make your skin more sensitive and may also cause bruises to appear. If a doctor identifies the cause of your skin problems as liver damage, you’ll need an appropriate treatment as creams and lotions won’t help.
The area around the liver may be tender and painful if you’re suffering from liver damage.
Diarrhea, constipation and intestinal bleeding
The liver plays a big role in the clotting factor, so when it’s damaged, you can experience intestinal bleeding, diarrhea and constipation.
If you notice any of the 12 aforementioned symptoms, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Liver damage is a serious problem which requires immediate medical attention. This is why it’s important to recognize the early signs of liver damage in order to recover and start leading a healthy lifestyle that will protect your liver.