Sure Signs You Have Damaged Your Liver
According to the CDC, 4.5 million US adults have liver disease. "Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol — common features of metabolic syndrome — are all known major risk factors for the development of fatty liver disease," says Craig Lammert, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a practicing gastroenterologist and hepatologist at IU Health. Here are five signs your liver is damaged, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Pain In Abdomen
Abdominal discomfort could be a sign of liver damage, doctors say. "You don't want to turn yellow with jaundice or feel pain in your upper right abdomen because those are signs your liver is already very sick," says Saleh Alqahtani, MD, director of clinical liver research for Johns Hopkins Medicine. "It is far better to stop liver disease before it gets too serious."
Jaundice is one of the most common signs of liver damage, experts say. "Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes due to abnormally high levels of bilirubin (bile pigment) in the bloodstream," says Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Urine is usually dark because of the bilirubin excreted through the kidneys. High levels of bilirubin may be attributed to inflammation, or other abnormalities of the liver cells, or blockage of the bile ducts. Sometimes, jaundice is caused by the breakdown of a large number of red blood cells, which can occur in newborns. Jaundice is usually the first sign, and sometimes the only sign, of liver disease."
"Often, cirrhosis shows no signs or symptoms until liver damage is extensive," says transplant hepatologist Sumera Ilyas, M.B.B.S. "When symptoms do occur, they may first include fatigue, weakness and weight loss, nausea, bruising or bleeding easily, swelling in your legs, feet or ankles, itchy skin, redness on the palms of your hands, and spider-like blood vessels on your skin."
Feeling full for no reason could signal problems with your liver. "Liver enlargement is usually an indicator of liver disease, although there are usually no symptoms associated with a slightly enlarged liver (hepatomegaly). Symptoms of a grossly enlarged liver include abdominal discomfort or 'feeling full,'" says Johns Hopkins Medicine.
"One of the most common and debilitating symptoms among individuals with liver disease is fatigue," says Melissa Palmer, MD. "It is universal to all varieties of liver disease from Primary Biliary Cirrhosis to Chronic Hepatitis C. In some patients, fatigue begins several years after the diagnosis of liver disease is made. In others, it was the primary reason for seeking medical attention. In such individuals multiple visits are made to a variety of physicians in search of a cause of their extreme lassitude. Some patients even seek psychiatric evaluation, as an accompanying symptom is often depression."