Liver is the largest internal organ and gland in the body. In an adult, it can be as large as a football. It has 500 important functions, but three of the most notable ones are cleansing toxins from the blood supply, producing bile to help with digestion, and storing glucose when needed for energy. When something in liver functions goes wrong, you may be suffering from a liver disease. Here are 12 early signs of liver disease to look out for.
1. Feeling Generally Unwell
Although this particular symptom may be hard to pin down, feeling generally unwell can be one of the early signs of liver problems. It relates to the fact that an underperforming liver will not be filtering toxins out of your bloodstream as efficiently as it should, and this can manifest itself in many ways, including skin problems, headaches, and feelings of irritability.
2. Skin Discoloration
A classic warning sign that a liver disease is present is yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. This happens when a certain type of bile (bilirubin) that is normally removed by the liver is allowed to build up, coloring the skin.
3. Frequent Gassy Sensation
If you frequently suffer from a gassy sensation accompanied by stool pressure its an indication that the liver is not able to secrete digestive juices which are essential to break down food. It also means the digestive system is affected by liver problems.
4. Loss of Appetite
Although the loss of appetite is listed as one of the early signs of liver disease, it frequently doesn’t appear until the liver disease has progressed somewhat. If you experience loss of appetite along with any of the other symptoms, then you should go and see your doctor as a matter of urgency, as it could be a sign that you have a more advanced form of liver disorder.
5. Feeling Confused and Disorientated
One of the most important functions of the liver is to remove toxins from the blood. For example, when we take medicine, the liver may filter them in order to make them harmless. Additionally, when we eat protein, ammonia is produced, which is rendered harmless by the liver.
However, when the liver does not function properly, these toxins build up; they may even cause problems in the brain. This condition is also known as hepatic encephalopathy. The sufferer may be confused and feel disorientated.
6. Sudden Weight Loss
Sudden, unplanned weight loss can be seen as a symptom of liver damage. If you are losing weight without trying, it may be from loss of appetite which happens when the liver becomes weak making you thin and malnourished.
7. Skin Sensitivity
One of the early signs of liver problems, and again associated with your skin, is when it becomes itchy or oversensitive. Keeping the skin moisturized will help, but the condition will continue and will probably worsen until the underlying cause (the problem with the liver) is identified and addressed.
8. Changes in the Abdominal Area
Changes taking place in your abdominal area is another of the possible symptoms of liver problems. It may begin with experiencing pain or cramps in the lower abdominal area. This can quickly be transformed into feeling blown out with gas. If left unaddressed a condition known as Ascites may develop.
Ascites is the name given to a condition whereby there is a buildup of fluid in the wall of your abdomen. This can lead to pressure being exerted on the lungs, which will cause difficulty in breathing. If this condition does occur, you may well have to undergo a Paracentesis, a medical process whereby a needle or catheter will be inserted in your peritoneum cavity in order to drain off the fluid.
9. Fluid Retention
Fluid retention in various parts of the body, especially feet, is a sign of weak liver. This condition is known as edema and looks like swelling, it can happen in your ankles, hands, feet, and thighs. If you press a finger gently into a swollen area the imprint will stay a few seconds with edema.
10. Darker Urine
Darker urine may be a result of medication or a shortage of fluid intake. But when the color is much darker than usual and you have white stool, this may be an indicator that liver disease is present. In this case, it will be important to seek urgent medical attention, as it may indicate that liver function has been severely compromised.
If you experience changes, such as feelings of extreme weakness, tiredness or chronic fatigue, this could also be an early sign of a liver problem. The body is working harder at survival and one of the first responses is to get more rest. If weakness and overall tiredness occurs with other related symptoms, prompt medical attention is recommended.
12. Acid Reflux and Vomiting
Digestive issues such as indigestion and acid reflux are symptoms of liver damage. If digestive problems or nausea dose not improve with dietary changes its a sign of liver damage. In severe cases it may also lead to vomiting.
How to Keep Your Liver Healthy
Diet, exercise and adequate sleep are the three keys to a healthy liver. You can avoid excesses of toxic food such as alcohol, coffee, and too many refined grains.
A glass of lemon water can help flush out toxins and make less work for your liver.
Also, ramping up on dark greens like broccoli and spinach, together with walnuts, avocado, berries, and plenty of water is very beneficial.