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Sure Signs You May Have Liver Damage, According to a Doctor

Everything to know about your liver, according to experts. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Your liver does a lot of heavy lifting to keep you healthy and any damage to the vital organ will affect your overall well-being. Your liver performs over 500 essential jobs and taking good care of it is critical for living a productive life. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who tells us, "Damage to the liver can lead to a variety of severe health problems. If you suspect that you may have liver damage, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Here are five signs that you may have liver damage and what to know about your liver." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why Your Liver is so Important


Dr. Mitchell says, "The liver is a large, multifunctional organ that occupies a central position within the abdominal cavity. Its main functions include filtering toxins from the blood, producing bile to aid in fat digestion, storing glycogen (sugar) to maintain blood sugar levels, and manufacturing blood clotting factors. The liver is also involved in hormone production and metabolism. Because of its many vital functions, the liver is considered one of the essential organs in the human body. Therefore, a healthy liver is critical for maintaining overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, the liver is also susceptible to various diseases and conditions that can cause serious health problems. For this reason, it is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of liver problems and seek medical help if any are present.

The liver is a vital organ responsible for various essential functions, including filtering toxins from the bloodstream and producing bile to aid digestion. Unfortunately, the liver is also susceptible to various diseases and conditions that can cause severe damage. That's why it's so important to listen to the warning signs your liver may be in trouble. Common symptoms of liver disease include fatigue, nausea, yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), dark urine, and pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. With early diagnosis and therapy, many forms of liver disease can be effectively managed, so don't wait to get help if you suspect something may be wrong."


How Does Liver Damage Happen?

woman holding liver

According to Dr. Mitchell, "There are many different ways that liver damage can occur. One of the most common causes is excessive alcohol consumption. When the liver processes alcohol, it produces a toxic by-product called acetaldehyde. This substance can damage liver cells, leading to inflammation and scarring. Liver damage can also be caused by viral infections such as hepatitis C and hepatitis B. These viruses attack healthy liver cells and cause inflammation. Other causes of liver damage include certain medications, chemicals, and autoimmune diseases.

In some cases, the cause of liver damage is unknown. However, all forms of liver damage can lead to serious health problems. Without treatment, liver damage can lead to cirrhosis, a condition in which the liver cannot function properly. Cirrhosis can be fatal. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of liver damage's signs and symptoms and seek medical help if you experience any symptoms."


Can Liver Damage be Reversed?

Young woman suffering pain at bedroom

Dr. Mitchell reminds us, "The liver is a vital organ that plays an essential role in metabolism, detoxification, and digestion. Unfortunately, the liver can also be damaged by various factors, including alcohol abuse, viral infections, and certain medications. Sometimes, liver damage can be reversed with early intervention and treatment. However, once the liver has been severely damaged, it may be impossible to repair the damage completely. Several options are available for managing liver damage, including lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery. The best course of action will vary depending on the individual case. However, with proper care and treatment, improving the quality of life for those with liver damage is possible."


Yellowing of the Skin or Whites of the Eyes

Woman rubbing her eyes.

Dr. Mitchell explains, "Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes. It occurs when there is an accumulation of bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced during the breakdown of red blood cells. Normally, the liver breaks down bilirubin and excretes it in bile. However, when the liver is damaged, it may not be able to remove bilirubin from the blood, resulting in jaundice properly. Jaundice is often a sign of liver damage, and it can be caused by various conditions, including hepatitis, gallstones, and cirrhosis. If you develop jaundice, it is essential to see a doctor so that the cause can be determined and appropriate treatment can be initiated."


Dark Urine

hand of a woman closing the lid of a toilet

"When your liver isn't functioning correctly, it can cause a build-up of toxins in your body," says Dr. Mitchell. "These toxins are eventually excreted through your urine, giving it a dark color. This is often a sign that your liver is struggling to filter harmful substances. If you notice that your urine is dark, it's essential to see a doctor so they can check your liver function. Sometimes, dark urine can be caused by dehydration, so make sure you're drinking plenty of fluids. If you believe your liver function is impaired, you can do a few things to support it. For example, drinking alcohol in moderation, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can all help to improve liver function."




Dr. Mitchell shares, "Fatigue is one of the most common signs of liver damage because the liver is responsible for filtering out toxins from the blood, and when it is damaged, these toxins can build up and cause feelings of fatigue. In addition, the liver also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and when it is damaged, blood sugar levels can drop, causing fatigue. Fatigue can also be a sign of other health problems, such as anemia or thyroid disease, so it is essential to see a doctor if you are unusually tired. However, if you are experiencing other symptoms of liver damage, such as jaundice or abdominal pain, then fatigue is likely to be one of the first signs that something is wrong."


Nausea and Vomiting

Young woman suffers, writhes in abdominal pain lying on couch in living room at home interior

According to Dr. Mitchell, "Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of liver damage. The liver is responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood, and when it is damaged, these toxins can build up and cause nausea. Vomiting occurs when the stomach contents are forced back up into the esophagus. In some cases, this may be due to an obstruction in the intestines. However, it can also be a sign that the liver cannot properly filter toxins out of the blood. As a result, nausea and vomiting are often early signs of liver damage. If you experience these symptoms, it is essential to see a doctor so that the cause can be properly diagnosed and treated."


Pain in the Abdomen


Dr. Mitchell shares, "Pain in the abdomen can be a sign of liver damage for several reasons. First, the liver is located in the upper right abdomen, so any pain in that area may be associated with liver problems. Additionally, liver damage can cause inflammation and irritation, leading to pain. Finally, Liver damage can also lead to fluid build-up in the abdomen, known as ascites. This can cause pain due to the added pressure on the stomach and intestines. If you are experiencing pain in your abdomen, it is essential to consult a medical professional to determine the cause. Liver damage is a serious condition, and early diagnosis is necessary for treatment."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather