- Digestive problems
- Heavy liver
- Stomach pain
- A palpable mass beneath your thoracic cavity
- Decreased appetite
- Pale stools
- Changes in your stool
- Itchy skin
- Frequent fever
- Reddish spots on the skin
- Increasing disorientation
- Bad breath
- Small white bumps near your eyes
- Difficulty speaking
Located in the upper right portion of the abdomen, the liver is one of the body’s vital organs. It filters the blood, stores certain vitamins and minerals, and produces bile.
When your liver malfunctions, your entire body suffers. Would you be able to tell if your liver’s health were less than optimal? Here are 20 early signs of an ailing liver.
Many things can cause digestive problems. Perhaps you eat too much fat or sugar, or you go overboard on sodas and coffee. But frequent digestive issues could be a sign of a serious problem with your liver. If your discomfort doesn’t go away, consult a doctor.
A liver that feels heavy is one of the most common signs that this organ may be suffering. Don’t panic, though. A heavy liver doesn’t necessarily mean you have liver cancer. Your liver is probably just clogged. Usually, your discomfort will disappear if you reduce the fat in your diet. Make an appointment with your doctor if symptoms persist.
Persistent pain on the right side of the abdomen should set off alarm bells. You may be suffering from appendicitis. However, if the pain is located in the upper abdomen and extends to the right shoulder, you may have liver cancer.
A palpable mass beneath your thoracic cavity
If you detect a mass beneath your thoracic cavity on the right side, you may have a swollen liver. Cancer is one reason this organ may swell. Unfortunately, the first signs of liver cancer don’t show up until the disease is already quite advanced. So, you should see your doctor as soon as this symptom presents itself to limit further damage.
Fatigue is not necessarily linked to liver problems. A simple virus can take you out of the game for a few days. On the other hand, if you feel extremely fatigued for several days and are unable to complete daily activities, head to the doctor’s office. An ailing liver (a fatty liver or one affected by liver cancer or cirrhosis, for example) has difficulty storing the vitamins and minerals that the human body needs to function properly, which can keep you from feeling your best.
Losing your appetite can have several causes. You may be depressed or anxious. However, if you’ve hardly eaten a thing in several days, you may have cirrhosis of the liver (especially if you are a heavy drinker), hepatitis, or even liver cancer. In any case, consult a health professional.
Jaundice is easy to recognize. Patients with this condition have yellow skin and mucous membranes, indicating an excessive accumulation of bile pigments in the blood and tissues. These symptoms often signal that the liver is malfunctioning, perhaps due to hepatitis, liver damage, liver cancer, or Gilbert’s syndrome.
Nausea doesn’t necessarily imply an unhealthy liver. It may result from food poisoning or, for women, pregnancy. On the other hand, queasiness that doesn’t go away or that occurs regularly is worrying. You may have cirrhosis of the liver or cancer.
You may be unaware of just how much your bowel movements can reveal about your health. Fecal matter that is paler than usual may, for example, indicate that your liver isn’t functioning properly. Before rushing to the doctor, though, wait a few days to see if the discolouration is simply due to a food you’ve recently eaten.
Changes in your stool
The colour of your urine is another way to tell if your liver is functioning well. For instance, urine that is darker than usual may, in some cases, be a symptom of acute hepatitis. If your urine has been tea-coloured for several days, you should schedule a medical examination.
Itchiness is usually caused by a dermatological problem, and in most cases, applying a cream prescribed by a dermatologist will bring relief. However, sometimes liver trouble is at the root of the problem. In effect, an increase in bilirubin (a pigment responsible for bile’s yellow colour), caused by primary biliary cholangitis or another liver disease, often produces itchiness.
In most cases, a fever doesn’t warrant a visit to the doctor’s office (make sure to comply with government recommendations regarding COVID-19). It’s usually caused by a minor virus and disappears after a few days. A fever that hangs around or that continuously comes and goes, however, may mean trouble. Many patients with hepatitis A (an inflammation of the liver contracted after consuming contaminated food or water) develop a fever.
Nosebleeds are hard to miss. While causes are often benign (dry air, excessive nose-blowing, minor injuries, etc.), frequent nosebleeds should never be ignored. People with cirrhosis, a condition in which the liver is severely scarred, may experience recurrent nosebleeds.
Reddish spots on the skin
Injuries, stings, and punches usually explain the appearance of red spots on your skin. On the other hand, red spots that appear out of nowhere may indicate something more serious, such as a problem with your liver (fulminant hepatitis).
Taking certain medications, drinking alcohol, using drugs, and suffering from mental illness can cause confusion. Sometimes, though, a diseased liver (fulminant hepatitis and cirrhosis) is to blame. If you can’t explain the source of your disorientation, see a doctor before your symptoms worsen.
Suffering from diarrhea from time to time is not dangerous. You may have eaten something that didn’t agree with you or caught a bout of gastroenteritis. Chronic diarrhea, on the other hand, may stem from digestive tract problems. Your colon or liver is probably in bad shape. A visit to your doctor is likely to shed some light on the problem.
Do you eat well and take no medications, yet have been constipated for over three weeks? You may have irritable bowel syndrome. At the same time, constipation is also seen in people with liver cancer. So, don’t wait to see your doctor.
Have you tried everything to get rid of your bad breath, but still suffer from musty-smelling halitosis? Have you considered seeing a doctor about your liver? A malfunctioning liver, due to hepatitis or chronic liver disease, causes waste to build up in the blood, which eventually leads to stinky breath.
Small white bumps near your eyes
Primary biliary cholangitis, a chronic liver disease, has numerous unusual symptoms, such as small white bumps that appear near the eyes. Don’t take this illness lightly as it can develop into cirrhosis when untreated.
Do you find it difficult to express yourself? Has your voice grown weaker? Are you having a hard time controlling your saliva? You may be suffering from Wilson’s disease. This hereditary and potentially fatal illness causes copper to accumulate in the liver. The excess copper spreads throughout the body and keeps certain organs, like the brain, from functioning properly.