Often overlooked until it becomes problematic, the liver plays a crucial role in maintaining overall well-being. Responsible for digesting the food we consume, a healthy liver is essential for optimal functioning.
Surprisingly, over a hundred distinct liver diseases stem from diverse factors such as infections, alcohol abuse, medications, drug use, obesity, and cancer.
While the causes may differ, most liver diseases similarly harm the organ, resulting in comparable symptoms and appearances. Understanding these commonalities is crucial for early detection and prompt intervention.
Early symptoms of liver disease
Many people lack awareness about the initial symptoms of various liver diseases, and even if they do notice them, identifying the underlying causes can pose a challenge.
The main reason for this difficulty lies in the fact that early signs of liver problems, such as abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, and diarrhea, are often encountered and easily mistaken for common ailments.
However, as time progresses, more discernible symptoms manifest, indicating the possibility of liver disease. These symptoms may include:
Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
As liver damage progresses, signs of the problem emerge, the skin may become more yellow than usual, and the whites of the eyes may become yellow, a condition doctors call jaundice.
This occurs when an excess of a yellowish substance builds up in the red blood cells, a task typically carried out by the liver but hindered when it is damaged.
An itchy feeling can also be a symptom of liver problems are chronic. This can happen even when there is no rash problem; this rash can make it difficult to sleep; if this is the case, it is better to consult a doctor.
If the liver becomes scarred, it can stop blood flow to the liver, increasing the pressure in the blood vessels behind it. This causes fluid to leak out and accumulate in the abdomen.
This fluid and swelling can be less or more.
Swelling in the feet and ankles
Swelling of the legs is joint in liver diseases. If your feet are often swollen, this could be a sign of liver problems, as this is also a result of fluid accumulation. In such a case, less consumption of salt or medication can help.
Dark colored urine
When the liver cannot produce a fluid called bile usually or stops flowing through the liver, the stool becomes yellowish, traditionally accompanied by yellow skin or jaundice. Similarly, the color of urine becomes very dark.
Fatigue and confusion
Fatigue is a common experience for many individuals, but the fatigue associated with liver disease is distinct and debilitating. When the liver malfunctions, it directly impacts energy regulation, making it exceptionally challenging to navigate daily activities.
The primary cause of this is the accumulation of toxins within the liver, which then circulate in the bloodstream and throughout the body. These toxins can adversely affect brain function, leading to confusion, difficulty concentrating, and frequent forgetfulness. Recognizing and addressing these cognitive impairments is crucial for managing liver disease effectively.
Nausea and vomiting
The liver disease frequently leads to gastrointestinal disturbances, with initial symptoms manifesting as stomach upset. As the disease progresses, these symptoms can worsen, resulting in persistent vomiting or nausea, warning signs of liver problems.
In more advanced stages, blood may be present in the vomit, indicating compromised liver function or liver failure. Understanding and promptly addressing these gastrointestinal symptoms is essential in managing liver disease effectively and seeking appropriate medical intervention.