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Sluggish Liver Symptoms

Sluggish Liver Symptoms

In its initial stages, a sluggish liver causes very little harm, frequently causing it to be left undiagnosed. However, neglect can lead to severe repercussions, including a host of other ailments. Fortunately, there are numerous symptoms that indicate a sluggish liver, and in this article we cover some of them.
Kanika Khara
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
The liver is the largest organ of the body, and is located below the diaphragm, in the right upper quadrant of the abdominal cavity. It performs several important functions, some of which are vital for good health. Detoxification of the blood, protein synthesis, excretion of bilirubin, hormones, cholesterol, drugs, and production of bile, an alkaline compound which helps in digestion through the emulsification of lipids, are some of the important functions that the liver performs. The liver also helps in the synthesis of plasma proteins, such as albumin, and clotting factors.
Symptoms Associated with a Sluggish Liver

Though there is not much harm done in the initial stages of a sluggish liver, it is important to diagnose and treat the condition immediately. If left untreated, it can cause impairment of liver function, and lead to severe disorders of the body.
There are various symptoms that show as a result of a sluggish liver. The most common symptoms are discussed below.
Abnormalities in the Level of Fats in the Bloodstream

One of the main functions of the liver is to maintain the level of fats in the bloodstream. For an average person, approximately 80% of the cholesterol is generated by the liver. A sluggish liver can cause:
  • Elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • Elevation in the triglycerides
  • Fatty tumors
  • Weight gain
  • Heart disease

Digestive Problems

Out of the many functions that the liver performs, the most important is to produce bile, which helps in digestion through the process of emulsification of lipids. A sluggish liver produces less bile, causing many digestion problems for the affected individual, including:
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Inability to digest fatty foods
  • Loss of appetite

Skin Related Allergies

The liver plays an important role in eliminating toxins from the body, and maintaining the efficiency of the body's immune system. If the process of eliminating toxins is hampered, as is in the case of a sluggish liver, skin irritation or skin allergies occur, which are considered the first sign of liver damage. A person in such a case would develop:
  • Rashes
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Boils, acne, or moles
  • Itching

Fluctuation in Blood Sugar Level

One of the main functions of the liver is to maintain the sugar level in the blood. A sluggish liver fails to do so, and would fluctuate the sugar levels to a great extent. In such a condition, a person would show symptoms such as:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low energy level
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain

Hormonal Imbalance

The liver is responsible for filtering out mutated hormones. A person with a sluggish liver would be quite affected by the hormonal imbalance and would exhibit symptoms such as:
  • Sleep and mental disturbance
  • Mental confusion
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to medicines
In case of women, hormonal imbalance due to a sluggish liver causes:
  • Heavy or clotted menstruation
  • Irregular periods
  • Fibroids in breast or uterus
  • Hot flashes
  • Cysts on ovaries
  • Mood swings or any menopausal problems

Other Symptoms

Apart from the sluggish liver symptoms mentioned above, individuals suffering from this condition may also show other symptoms, such as:
  • Yellowing of the eyes
  • Dark urine and stool
  • Swollen feet or abdomen
  • Bad breath
  • Heartburn
  • Allergy to chemicals in paints, petrol, bleaches, etc.
  • Body odor
  • Intolerance to alcohol

Sluggish Liver Causes

A sluggish liver is a condition wherein the liver works below capacity, or inefficiently. This can happen due to various reasons, like accumulation of fats in the liver cells (obesity), or liver fatigue (poor diet rich in fats, making the liver work harder). Lack of exercise can also be a cause of a sluggish liver. Other factors that can cause this condition include:
  • Alcoholism
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Drug intake (corticosteroids, tetracycline and aspirin)
  • Elevated serum triglyceride levels
  • Aging
  • Excessive consumption of anabolic steroids/estrogens/oral contraceptives
In addition to these, intrahepatic problems, which occur due to over exposure to food additives, solvents (cleaning materials, formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, etc.), heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, and aluminum), and other toxins, can also cause a sluggish liver. Viral infections of the liver, like hepatitis; inherited disorders, like Gilbert's syndrome; and hyperthyroidism are some other factors that can restrict the bile flow in the liver and cause impaired liver function.
If you notice any of these symptoms for a prolonged period, it is recommended to visit a doctor as soon as possible. As prevention is always better than cure, following a healthy diet that is low in fat and high in fiber and water is one of the ways to avoid this problem. In addition, incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet along with lean protein foods like fish, tofu, legumes, etc., helps keep the liver healthy.
Besides this, it is advised to avoid consumption of alcohol, and to keep junk and processed foods to a minimum. Along with the diet, exercise is also important, and following a proper exercise regimen will go a long way in keeping the liver healthy.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be substituted for the advice of a medical practitioner.