The liver is the largest solid organ in your body. It is located in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen and partly protected by the ribs. You need your liver for many important bodily functions and cannot live without your liver. For this reason, you should know the early signs of liver damage and take care of your liver as much as you possibly can.
12 Early Signs of Liver Damage
There are more than a hundred different kinds of diseases of the liver. Each has its own set of symptoms. Some of these diseases include alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and cirrhosis of the liver. The early signs of liver disease tend to be easily overlooked and are non-specific, related to any number of different conditions. Here are some common early signs.
1. Upset Stomach
You are likely to get nausea and vomiting. They can mimic other diseases, such as migraines, food poisoning, vertigo, motion sickness, early pregnancy, depression and vomiting. It can mimic kidney problems as well. Those who suffer from early liver damage often feel persistently nauseous, because the liver has a decreased ability to rid the body of toxins.
The nausea can also be due to ongoing metabolism and changes in digestion. If you have these symptoms for several days and don’t know why, seek the attention of your doctor.
2. Fatigue and Overall Weakness
One of the early and obvious signs of liver damage is constantly feeling tired and weak. When the liver is not in great condition, the body must work harder and you will need more rest. This is due to an increase in toxins in the bloodstream that can’t be cleared out because the liver can’t get rid of the toxins properly. If the symptoms persist, especially with other early signs of liver damage, seek medical advice as soon as you can.
3. Lack of Appetite
This happens due to a lack of production of bile that helps digest fat in the diet. When food isn’t properly digested, it can lead to a lack of appetite and a severe loss of weight. See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms for a long period of time.
4. Digestion Problems
The liver is important in digestion because it makes bile that helps the nutrients be better processed and absorbed by the small intestines. If the liver is failing, you can develop an increase in indigestion and diarrhea. If the bile is not produced properly, you can also experience irritable bowel syndrome, fatty food intolerance, alcohol intolerance, abdominal bloating, constipation and gallstones. If this becomes severe, you need to seek the medical attention of a doctor.
5. Alterations in the Color of Urine
If you think you are drinking enough but still have a dark color of your urine, this may be one of the early signs of liver damage. The urine may look brown, amber, or orange in color because of elevated levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream. The bilirubin is elevated because the liver cannot get rid of the bilirubin and it is excreted through the kidneys.
Dark urine may also be due to dehydration, side effects of taking antibiotics, taking B vitamin supplements, urinary tract infections, enzyme deficiencies or kidney abnormalities. The doctor can help sort out the cause of dark urine.
6. Changes in Stool Coloration
Because the bile is not made enough by a malfunctioning liver, the color of the stool changes. Instead of being brown, it can become pale yellow, clay colored, or gray in appearance. If this happens periodically, it is not dangerous, but if it happens often, seek the advice of your doctor to check out your liver.
Jaundice is a yellow coloration to the skin, tongue, fingertips, and eyes. Jaundice is from an increase in bilirubin in the bloodstream and in the bodily tissue that would normally be excreted in the bile. Bilirubin builds up when old red blood cells are broken down inside the liver. It causes the skin to become yellow. Jaundice can also mean you have a problem with the pancreas or gallbladder, so you should seek medical attention as soon as you can if you develop this symptom.
8. Abdominal Changes
If you experience pain or cramping in the lower part of the abdomen or feel especially bloated, this can mean that you have ascites and a malfunctioning liver. Ascites is one of the early signs of liver damage and basically means that fluid has built up inside the abdominal cavity. It can happen whenever there is damage to the liver or liver cirrhosis.
You often get portal hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the arteries and veins of the abdomen from liver disease. You can also get ascites from disorders unrelated to the liver, so you should seek medical attention if you develop this symptom.
9. Fluid Retention
One of the early signs and symptoms of liver damage is fluid retention, especially in the ankles and feet. This is similar to ascites except the fluid is building up in the outer tissues in the lower extremities. There are many other causes of fluid retention, including kidney problems, hormonal imbalances, heart failure and lymphatic disease. You should always see your doctor in order to find out the cause of it.
10. Increase in Skin Itching
The skin becomes more sensitive in liver deficiency and often itches and flakes, being hypersensitive to touch. You may experience an increase in bruising and an increase in the visibility of the veins in the body. You can try to keep the skin moisturized with lotion, but the itching and skin sensitivity probably won’t get better until the actual liver problem is properly identified and taken care of.
11. Abdominal Pain
This is usually pain in the right upper quadrant of the rib cage where the liver is located. When it is malfunctioning, there can be pain or tenderness in the affected area.
12. Intestinal Bleeding, Diarrhea or Constipation
The liver makes clotting factors and without them, you can get bleeding of the intestines associated with diarrhea or constipation.
This is not the full list of early signs of liver damage. For example, an improperly functioning liver can also cause problems in the balance of sex hormones so that men can develop breasts, and both men and women can suffer from a loss of libido. So talk with your doctor if you find any problems that last longer and make you feel not well.