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Liver Damage Symptoms

Liver Damage Symptoms
The liver is an important organ of the human body. Any liver disorder can hinder the normal functioning of the body. Therefore, it is necessary to understand liver damage symptoms, so that the necessary action can be taken.
Kalpana Kumari
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
The liver plays numerous important roles in the body. It actively participates in metabolizing vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It converts glucose to glycogen and helps in the storage of glycogen, vitamin and minerals. It also plays an important role in blood purification and detoxification. It also synthesizes plasma protein and blood clotting agents.
It produces and excretes bile juice which helps in breaking down fat. Bile plays an important role in the digestion of fats. When the liver is damaged and is unable to filter excessive bile from the blood, serious problems may occur. The presence of excess bile in the blood may cause the skin, eyes and nails to look pale. This condition is known as jaundice. It is an indication of liver damage or failure. There may be a number of other signs of liver failure, which we will discuss in the following paragraphs.
Symptoms of Liver Damage
  • The early symptoms of liver damage include fatigue, weakness, lack of appetite, loss of energy, weight loss and nausea.
  • A damaged liver cannot remove bilirubin from the blood. The skin and the white part of the eyes become yellow due to its presence in the blood. This condition is called jaundice, which is one of the major symptoms of liver damage.
  • Nails change in color and appearance. They become more curved (clubbing) and look white rather than pink.
  • Loss of appetite occurs and may eventually result in weight loss and anemia. There is indigestion or improper metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
  • 20% of patients suffering from liver diseases notice darkening of their skin color.
  • The stool of the patient becomes lighter in color. This is due to the absence of bile in it.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome is another common sign of liver damage.
  • In many patients of liver damage, an enlarged liver is observed. This is called hepatomegaly. There is dilation of the abdominal part beneath the lower right ribs.
  • The severity of the above mentioned problems may increase the pressure on the diaphragm. This may further result in breathing complications.
  • Polydipsia (excessive thirst) and polyuria (frequent urination) are other important symptoms of liver damage.
  • An important function of the liver is to remove excessive fluids with the help of kidneys, from the body. When the liver is damaged, the body starts retaining fluids, which is known as bloating.
  • One of the most common symptoms of liver damage is the formation of more than 5 spider nevus. Spider nevus is a red spot surrounded by fine blood vessels, present just below the skin. This signifies that the liver is not able to detoxify the estrogen hormone from the blood, resulting in the dilation of some of the dermal arterioles.
  • There is a delay noticed in blood clotting as the liver is no more able to produce an important blood clotting protein, fibrinogen.
  • In more than 50% of male patients of liver damage, enlargement of the breasts and shrinkage of the testes is observed.
  • In the advanced stages of liver damage, symptoms such as nose bleeding, presence of blood in vomit and stool is observed.
  • Blood in stool which may result in dark black or tarry bowel movement.
  • Liver damage may also lead to brain and nervous system disorders like changing moods, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, numbness in the arms and legs, poor attention, etc.
Causes of Liver Damage
  • Alcoholism
  • Hemochromatosis, i.e., excessive deposition of iron in the liver cells.
  • Clots in the Portal vein
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Genetic disorders
  • Liver adenoma, cyst or cancer
  • Viral infection
  • All types of hepatitis, i.e., autoimmune, toxic, A, B, C, D and E.
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis (mostly occurs in women)
  • Body's immune system attacking and destroying the liver cells. This is quite uncommon.
Liver Damage Treatment and Precaution
To diagnose any type of liver damage, you need to undergo a few tests which will also find out the cause behind the damage. Once the diagnosis is over, treatment will depend upon the cause of liver disorder or disease. Some of the diseases which need immediate and proper medical attention and treatments are autoimmune disorder, glycogen storage diseases, hepatitis A,B,C and D, Wilson's disease, hemochromatosis, cancer, etc. Some of the diseases may get cured by medication whereas some may require surgery. Liver transplant may also be done in case of complete liver damage.
To avoid any type of liver damage, one can follow some simple and effective tips. Alcohol is considered to be the major reason behind liver damage. Alcoholic liver diseases are usually noticed when they reach advanced levels as they show very less to no symptoms. This makes it very difficult to cure. So the best thing one can do is to reduce the consumption of alcohol. Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
The liver is an organ which is metabolically very active. It is highly important for the survival of the human body. Despite all this, the human body can withstand the loss of approximately 60% of a normal liver. This is because the liver has the ability to regenerate itself. Still, any liver problem should not be taken casually. In case of the occurrence of the aforementioned liver damage symptoms, you should immediately consult a health care professional for necessary intervention.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.