Your liver is the largest organ in your body. About the size of a soccer ball, your liver keeps you healthy through its many functions. But if your liver gets sick, it can be life threatening. Here are 15 red flags that you could have a diseased liver.
What does your liver do?
It is located just below the ribs, on the right side of the stomach. Your liver filters the blood that comes from your digestive system before it reaches the rest of your body. It also removes chemicals and metabolizes the medications you take. The bile secreted by the liver returns to the intestines, where it is eventually eliminated as waste. Your liver also does these five things for your body.
- Produces bile
- Eliminates bilirubin, cholesterol, drugs and hormones.
- Activate your enzymes for metabolism.
- Stores glucose, minerals, and vitamins.
- Helps blood clot properly
Diseases in the liver
Some liver problems can be inherited from your parents, others can be caused by viruses. Some liver ailments go away over time, but others can become very serious illnesses that lead to death if not treated properly.
Fatty liver disease
This liver disease can affect children and adults. Your liver contains very little fat. But if fat builds up in liver cells, it causes bloating and eventually damages. Excess fat can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and sometimes liver failure. Studies show that in the last decade, about 30% to 40% of Americans have fat in their liver. Consuming too much alcohol can also cause fatty liver, but the biggest problem today is obesity. Being overweight can cause your liver to accumulate fat.
Lifestyle changes are the best way to avoid fatty liver disease. Lose extra weight, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Doctors suggest even losing as little as 5% to 8% of your body weight to help reverse liver damage.
Another common liver disease is viral hepatitis caused by five different hepatitis: A, B, C, and D, depending on the type of infection. Only 20% of all people in the world are affected by a virtual hepatitis infection, but the numbers are increasing. In the United States, the most common viral diseases are A, B, and C.
You are exposed to hepatitis A and E through contaminated food or water. Other hepatitis viruses are transmitted by unsterile injections, by coming into contact with blood or other body fluids. Hepatitis B, C, and D are spread through sexual contact. Because people with hepatitis don’t show any symptoms, they can spread the disease without realizing it.
If you do get viral hepatitis, it can be treated with medicine. Hepatitis A, B, and D can be prevented by getting vaccinated. Other ways to prevent hepatitis include these precautions:
- Avoid contact with infected blood
- Do not eat contaminated food or water
- Avoid medications that can cause liver damage as too much paracetamol (Tylenol), NSAIDs (ibuprofen), and aspirin. It is the most common cause of sudden liver failure.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limit your alcohol
- Eat a plant-based diet, consisting of organic foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
15 red flags that reveal you have a diseased liver
Liver disease can appear without much warning. Often there are few or no symptoms at first, so it’s easy to miss. These are the symptoms to look for.
1 – Jaundiced skin and whites of the eyes
Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin or eyes. The yellow is due to a high level of bilirubin, an orange-yellow color of bile.
2 – Abdominal pain and swelling
Fluid that builds up in the stomach due to liver disease is called ascites. It is one of the first symptoms of liver failure and advanced liver disease. This makes your stomach bloat and look bigger. You may also feel like you can’t breathe.
Symptoms of ascites include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fluid in the chest
- Discomfort in the bloated stomach area
3 – Swelling of the legs and ankles
Edema is the accumulation of fluids in body tissues. When your small blood vessels begin to lose fluids and build up in the surrounding areas. Your face, legs, ankles, and feet may be swollen if you have chronic hepatitis. Some people have stretched, shiny, or itchy skin where fluids have collected. If you have mild edema, it may go away and your doctor may prescribe a diuretic to help your body eliminate fluids.
4 – Joint pain
Hepatitis C activates your immune system to attack the viral infection. Because your immune system is overdone, it causes pain in your joints and muscles, which in turn increases the chance of having more inflammation in your joints, making your joints hurt even more.
5 – Dark urine
If you have hepatitis, your urine may turn a dark yellow almost orange color. This happens because bilirubin is excreted through the kidneys. High amounts of bilirubin can cause inflammation of the liver and sometimes a blockage of the bile ducts.
6 – Pale stool
A red flag that reveals a diseased liver is clay-colored stools. Normal bile is brown in color due to bile salts, but when you have a liver infection, bile production is blocked. This causes your skin to turn yellow and your stools to appear pale, like clay.
7 – Chronic fatigue
If you are fighting a liver infection, you may feel fatigued. Also, if your liver is not working properly, you will also feel tired and listless.
8 – Nausea
Hepatitis causes fluid to build up in your stomach and make you feel nauseous. Also, sometimes the bile ducts become blocked, which can make you nauseous and not feel like eating.
9 – Mild fever
If you have hepatitis, you may feel like you have the flu with nausea, tiredness, pain, and loss of appetite. You may have a low fever due to the infection because your immune system is activated to fight the infection.
10 – Tendency to bruise easily
If you have advanced hepatitis C, you will bruise and bleed easily. Some of this is due to the slow production of platelets that help the blood to clot properly. In extreme cases, the nose and gums may start to bleed and you will have blood in your urine.
11 – Diarrhea
Hepatitis B and A sometimes cause nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms can develop slowly over time, eventually leading to jaundice and other symptoms.
12 – Loss of appetite
Studies discovered that loss of appetite is one of the main symptoms of chronic liver disease. It is not clear what causes the lack of desire for food, but the food may not taste normal.
13 – Feeling of discomfort
Doctors define discomfort like the feeling that something is “wrong”. If you have liver disease, you may not feel quite right, but you cannot point out what is wrong. You may feel very tired or sleepy.
14 – Bad breath
Another red flag that reveals a diseased liver is musty or sweet-smelling breath. This means that your liver is not filtering toxic substances and chemicals into your blood. Sulfur builds up in the bloodstream and reaches the lungs. Then it emits a strong smell when you breathe out air.
15 – Itching
Itching is another word for the itchiness you may feel if you have hepatitis. If you have cirrhosis, you may be itchy from toxins that build up in your body and your liver is not fully working. So he toxins they accumulate in our bloodstream causing jaundice and itching. The itchiness can keep you awake at night. Your hands and feet may itch.
Some people even feel like their internal organs are itching. Doctors report that the itching is so severe that patients report feeling suicidal. Your doctor may give you medicine to stop the itching.
Your liver keeps you healthy. If your liver becomes infected or diseased, you may not know it at first. But over time, the symptoms will start to appear. You may feel like you have the flu, jaundice, stomach bloating, and fluid buildup.
Eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a good weight to avoid fatty liver, a big problem right now in America as obesity continues to increase. If you travel abroad, be sure to get vaccinated so you don’t get hepatitis. Limit your alcohol intake. All of these things add up to a healthy liver.