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Sure Signs You Have Liver Disease, Say Experts

Watch out for these symptoms.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

The liver is one of our most essential organs. It helps regulate chemicals in our blood and carries away waste from our bodies. It performs life-sustaining functions and without a healthy liver, we can't survive. According to the Cleveland Clinic, "approximately 30 million people have some form of liver disease. More than 8,000 people in the U.S. received liver transplants in 2017, and more than 17,000 people are on the waiting list for a liver transplant." Read the tips below to find out more about liver disease and the signs to watch out for—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Stages of Liver Cancer

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According to My Med, there are four stages of liver disease. 

Stage 1

"The first stage of liver disease involves inflammation of the individual's bile duct or liver. Abdominal pain is often the first symptoms of this inflammation as the person's body attempts to fight off the disease or infection," says MyMed.

Stage 2

"In a number of people with liver disease, the condition only becomes evident at stage two or during stage three as the initial symptoms often go unnoticed. Stage two consists of the scarring or inflammation (damage) starting to block the natural flow of blood in the liver," says MyMed.

Stage 3

"Cirrhosis, pronounced 'si-roh-sis,' is a result of liver disease progression, usually due to lack of treatment, wherein the scar tissue of the liver replaces healthy tissue. This process occurs when the healthy liver cells have been damaged over time (normally a number of years) from a progressive disease or infection," says MyMed.

Stage 4

"During the disease's final stage, the failure of the liver will signal the termination of the functioning of the liver. This will require immediate medical attention in order to prevent fatality," says MyMed.

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2

Symptoms of Liver Disease

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According to the Cleveland Clinic the following are symptoms of liver disease to watch out for. 

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the stool

"As liver failure advances, symptoms become more severe. In later stages, symptoms of liver failure may include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Disorientation (confusion and uncertainty)
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen and extremities (arms and legs)

Sometimes, the liver fails suddenly, which is known as acute liver failure. People with acute liver failure may have the following symptoms:"

  • Bleeding
  • Changes in mental status
  • Musty or sweet breath odor
  • Movement problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • General feeling of being unwell
  • Jaundice

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3

Causes of Liver Disease

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There are several causes of liver disease according to the Mayo Clinic, which include infection, immune system abnormality, genetics, cancer, chronic alcohol abuse and certain prescription or over-the-counter medications.

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4

Risk Factors

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While some people will contract liver disease because of genetics, there are things that can increase your risk. 

The Mayo Clinic lists the following factors that can 

  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Tattoos or body piercings
  • Injecting drugs using shared needles
  • Blood transfusion before 1992
  • Exposure to other people's blood and body fluids
  • Unprotected sex
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins
  • Family history of liver disease

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5

Prevention

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There are several ways to help prevent liver disease. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following:

  • Drink less alcohol
  • Avoid unprotected sex
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don't share needles
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and eating. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. . Read more