The liver is the largest glandular organ of the human body. It is located just beneath the diaphragm, in the upper right section of the abdomen. Just below the liver, lies a small pear-shaped sac that stores bile, a digestive juice which is produced by the liver. When we eat foods that are rich in fats, the gallbladder contracts to deliver bile into the small intestine. Bile helps in the emulsification of fats, and facilitates the digestion of fatty foods. Many of the toxins that get stored in the body are fat-soluble in nature. The liver neutralizes these toxins, by converting them into water-soluble substances. It thus, makes the task of excretion of such substances easier. Many vital metabolic processes are dependent on the healthy functioning of the liver which is why a person diagnosed with a liver disease may suffer from a sluggish metabolism. Since the liver helps in breaking down fat, a person suffering from a liver problem may experience liver pain after eating fatty foods. Here's some information on the medical conditions that may affect the liver, and give rise to pain post meals.
Causes of Liver Pain After Meals
Since the liver is located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, a malfunctioning liver would manifest in the form of pain that is felt in the upper right section of the abdomen. Pain could even be referred to the right shoulder or the back. Since many organs are located in the abdomen, it is essential to identify the source of pain. What one may consider to be liver pain, could even be pain radiating from the surrounding organs. Given below is some information on the liver diseases that may cause liver pain after eating.
Fatty Liver Disease: Fatty liver disease is one of the most common causes of liver pain. This liver disease is associated with the accumulation of fats in the liver cells. The buildup of fat in liver cells occurs as a result of abnormal retention of lipids within these cells. As the disease progresses, these cells replace the healthy tissue, thereby affecting the liver function in a negative way. Excessive consumption of alcohol or fatty foods are both unhealthy lifestyle choices that can make one susceptible to this condition. Fatty liver disease is categorized into alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects those who drink very little or don't consume alcohol at all. Diabetics and obese people are included in the high-risk groups. A high intake of fatty foods or a sedentary lifestyle may also make one highly susceptible to fatty liver disease. A person suffering from this disease could develop an intolerance to fatty foods, and may therefore, experience liver pain after ingesting foods that are rich in saturated fats.
Gallbladder Disease: As mentioned earlier, the gallbladder acts as a reservoir for bile. Bile is made up of cholesterol, pigments and bile salts. If bile becomes saturated with excessive amounts of cholesterol, cholesterol may then crystallize into hard stone-like deposits. These masses are referred to as gallstones. These hardened deposits may form in the gallbladder, or even in the ducts that facilitate the passage of bile from the liver to the gallbladder. Gallstones emerge as a common cause of blocked bile ducts, inflammation of the gallbladder or bile buildup in the liver. At times, imbalance in the composition of bile, could lead to formation of stone-like masses in the liver itself. These stone-like deposits are called intrahepatic calculi. Though these are not as common as gallstones, these surely give rise to distressing symptoms. If the liver is not able to process bile in a right manner, one may not be able to digest fatty foods. As a result, one may experience abdominal pain after meals.
Treatment of Liver Pain
A physical examination would certainly not be enough to help doctors ascertain or locate the source of the pain. This is the reason why doctors may conduct an abdominal ultrasound. Imaging procedures such as an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI, can certainly help in the diagnosis of lesions, abnormal growths or any abnormalities. An analysis of the medical history of the patient will also help. The underlying cause of upper-right abdominal pain could be a liver disease or even a condition associated with any of the organs that are located in the abdominal cavity. The treatment options would therefore, vary depending on the underlying cause. If the tests reveal inflammation, non-inflammatory drugs would be prescribed. Surgery may need to be performed if drug therapy or alternative healing therapies don't seem to alleviate pain caused by the stone-like masses. Since unhealthy dietary habits are one of the most common causes of liver problems, one would certainly benefit by following a healthier diet. If one mostly experiences liver pain after having a fatty meal, the wise thing to do, would be to reduce one's intake of fatty foods. Liver problems, more often than not, are a direct result of alcohol abuse. One must, therefore, refrain from consumption of alcohol. Since malfunctioning of the liver may be attributed to accumulation of toxins in the body, one can also check out certain herbal remedies for cleansing the liver. Milk thistle, chamomile, dandelion root, artichoke and turmeric are some of the herbs that can be incorporated into one's diet for the purpose of liver detoxification.
The liver is a vital organ that performs various essential functions. One must therefore make lifestyle-related changes that would promote healthy functioning of the liver. Abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion, yellowing of the skin, nausea, vomiting and itchy skin are some of the common symptoms of liver disease. If you have been experiencing any such symptoms, seek medical help. Pain that surfaces after having fatty foods is mainly attributed to fatty liver disease or imbalance in the composition of bile which is why dietary modifications can certainly help in alleviating such symptoms.