14 Signs of Liver Damage

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What Does the Liver Do?

It is safe to say that the liver is considered one of the most important organs in the body because of the many functions it does in keeping the body operating at 100 percent. So, when the liver is experiencing conditions of continuous damage, like alcoholism, there are numerous signs that there is a problem.

The liver is a football shaped organ that sits just under the right side of the rib cage. The liver is essential for digesting food, ridding the body of toxic substances, processing and storage of iron for red blood cell production, and converting waste into urea.

14 Signs of Liver Damage

On a day-to-day basis, the liver is in constantly repairing itself due to the fact that it deals with the body’s waste products. However, alcoholism or substance abuse can cause stress on the liver and hinder its normal bodily functions.

Here are 14 signs that the liver is damaged and struggling to keep up with the body:

  1. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin & eyes)
  2. Bursts of abdominal pain and swelling
  3. Abnormal swelling in the legs and ankles
  4. Dark yellow urine
  5. Pale stool color
  6. Blood in stool
  7. Tar-colored stool
  8. Chronic fatigue
  9. Nausea
  10. Loss of appetite
  11. Vomiting
  12. Bruise easily with slow healing
  13. Skin becomes itchy and irritated
  14. Extreme weight loss

If you are experiencing these symptoms do not hesitate to contact a doctor as you might be experience symptoms of liver disease or cirrhosis of the liver.

What is Liver Disease?

Liver disease or hepatic disease is continuous damage to the liver causing a disturbance in the function and repair of the liver. Since the liver is responsible for many bodily functions, disturbance can cause significant damage to the body and cause other organs of the body to malfunction.

Liver disease is often considered a broad term for when the liver fails to perform its designated functions. Due to its constant repair function, 75% of the liver tissue needs to be damaged or affected before a significant decrease in function is noticeable. Unfortunately, once 75% of the liver is damaged beyond repair, liver failure becomes a life-threatening situation and needs immediate attention and intervention.

What are the Risk Factors for Liver Disease?

In many cases, liver disease tends to be associated with lifestyle choices and can be preventable given the right diet and habits. Alcohol-related liver disease occurs when there is continuous excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is considered a poison to the body and when alcohol is abused, it can cause scarring of the liver aka cirrhosis of the liver. Drug abuse and certain over the counter medications also cause damage to the liver.

Unfortunately, some liver diseases are not preventable and are caused by viral infections and/or genetic dispositions. Here is a list of both preventable and nonpreventable risks that cause liver disease:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Alcoholism or heavy alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Unsterilized tattoo or body piercing equipment
  • Shared needles
  • Exposure to other people’s blood and body fluids
  • Unprotected sex
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, radiation, or toxins
  • Family history of liver disease

Top 3 Hereditary Liver Diseases

Some liver diseases can be passed down from generation to generation regardless of diet or alcohol consumption.

  1. Wilson’s Disease: Wilson disease is a condition involving a buildup of copper in the liver that will cause cirrhosis.
  2. Hemochromatosis: Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is caused by large amounts of iron to accumulate in the liver.
  3. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency: Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a genetic disorder affect the liver and the lungs. AAT deficiency is caused by an accumulation of abnormal AAT protein is the liver. This leads to progressive liver damage with little to no symptoms until advanced cirrhosis.

Does Taking Over-the-Counter Medication with Alcohol Cause Liver Disease?

On many over-the-counter medications the labels will specifically advice people not to take them with alcohol because it can cause severe liver damage or even liver failure.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose is a common cause of liver failure or liver damage. Yes, over-the-counter medications are relatively safe, but mixing them with alcohol can change what they do inside the body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Alcohol can make some medications less effective or raise the concentration of the medication in your blood to toxic levels.

Drinking alcohol can create new symptoms or make the side effects of a medication worse. Taking medication for sedation like opiates or sleeping medication can cause your breathing to stop.

Statins and Niacin are prescription medications used to control elevated blood levels of cholesterol. mixing alcohol and statins can cause increase risk in liver damage, liver inflammation, and/or cirrhosis.
Other medications can irritate the liver’s blood vessels causing them to narrow or form blood clots.

9 ways to Prevent Liver Damage

  1. Decrease consumption of alcoholic beverages. Binge drinking or heavy drinking is defined as more than 15 drinks a week for men and 8 drinks a week for women. If you consume 6 to 8 drinks a day, you may be struggling with alcoholism and should take to your doctor about seeking help before cirrhosis of the liver puts your life in danger.
  2. Avoid risky behavior or unsafe sex with multiple partners. Use protection, like a condom, during sex.
  3. Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. If you’re at increased risk of contracting hepatitis consider talking to your doctor about getting vaccinated.
  4. Do not take medication with alcohol and use them wisely. Take prescription and nonprescription drugs only when needed. Don’t mix medications and alcohol. Read the warning labels on narcotic and sleeping medication before considering drinking alcohol as they may be fatal.
  5. Avoid contact with other people’s blood and body fluids. Viral infections like Hepatitis can be spread by accidental needle sticks or improper cleanup of blood or body fluids. Always use sterile needles and avoid sharing needles at all costs.
  6. Keep your food safe and drink from a clean water source. Wash your hands after using the restroom or before eating or preparing foods. Contaminated water can carry toxins and pathogens that can cause liver damage.
  7. Avoid toxins in aerosol sprays. When using aerosol products, make sure it is a well-ventilated area. Toxins can cause server liver damage so wear a mask when spraying insecticides, fungicides, paint and other toxic chemicals.
  8. Protect your skin to avoid toxin exposure. When using insecticides and other toxic chemicals, wear gloves, long sleeves, a hat and a mask so that chemicals aren’t absorbed through your skin.
  9. Maintain a healthy diet and weight. Some cholesterol medications can cause liver damage or cirrhosis. Having a healthy diet can prevent the need for Statins and Niacin prescription medications. Obesity can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

What is Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is the next stage of liver disease or liver damage as it is the permanent scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis is where the normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue that cannot perform any liver function. The scar tissue cannot be healed or repaired or replaced by healthy tissue.

Seeing as there are many ways to damage the liver alcohol abuse or alcoholism is the most common cause of liver disease in the United States of America. Alcohol is considered a poison or toxic to liver cells and can cause liver inflammation. The inflammation of the liver via alcohol is also referred to as alcoholic hepatitis. More specifically, alcohol abuse causes fat to accumulate in liver cells affecting their ability to function.

Cirrhosis is life threatening and statistics show that 20% of patients with alcoholic fatty livers will progress to alcoholic cirrhosis.

Unfortunately, liver damage done by cirrhosis can be permanent and may require surgical removal of the scar tissue to encourage the liver to heal. If the alcoholic seeks help, liver cirrhosis can be diagnosed early and treated, further damage can be limited.

Symptoms & Complications of Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis symptoms are very similar to liver disease as there are no alarming symptoms until 75% of the liver has cirrhosis scarring. When the symptoms do occur, intervention is needed right away. Symptoms of Cirrhosis include:
Nausea

  • Edema: The increased pressure in the portal vein can cause fluid to accumulate in the legs.
  • Ascites: Fluid accumulation in your abdomen causing swelling. Edema and ascites can hinder the ability of the liver to make albumin proteins.
  • Bruising and Bleeding: The increase in pressure can cause smaller veins to burst. since the liver is involved with blood clotting this function might be compromised. Depending on the location of the bleeding and bruising, this symptom in itself can be life-threating.
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundice: Often the symptom the sparks intervention. Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
  • Women experience loss of periods not related to menopause
  • Men experience loss of sex drive and testicular atrophy
  • Portal hypertension: High blood pressure in the veins that supply the liver. Cirrhosis slows blood flow through the liver and increases pressure in the veins that brings blood to the liver
  • Splenomegaly: Portal hypertension can cause the spleen to swell or become enlarged. This swelling is caused by white blood cells and platelets to become trapped in the organ. This effects the efficiency of the immune system.
  • Malnutrition: If alcohol abuse is the cause of Cirrhosis, the person tends to replace meals with alcoholic beverages. This makes it more difficult for your body to process nutrients. Malnutrition leads to weakness, fatigue, and weight loss.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy: Liver damaged by cirrhosis hinders the ability to clear toxins from the blood. These toxins build up in the brain causing drowsiness, confusion, and slurring of the speech, and difficulty concentrating. With time, hepatic encephalopathy can lead to a coma.
  • Increased risk of liver cancer: those who develop liver cancer may have had pre-existing cirrhosis.

Resources

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20374502

https://www.medicinenet.com/liver_disease/article.htm

https://www.universityhealthsystem.com/services/liver-health/liver-disease-prevention/alcoholic-liver-disease

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cirrhosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351487

https://www.universityhealthsystem.com/services/liver-health/liver-disease-prevention/genetic-liver-diseases

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56 comments
  1. This is very good and important information. We have to take care of our liver. You should stay away from drugs. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  2. Liver is a very special part of human body system. If the liver is destroy definitely, the person is a living dead. Let us watch what we eat.

  3. This is very important information for all people. Having liver damage is a very bad thing. This can cause a lot of damage.

  4. All of us gets sick but to get liver damage in a normal way is rare. One way or the other it always involves drinking or in most cases a drink to many or if they stop they stop too late. To me the nest way to minimize this is to NOT drink at all.

  5. This was a comprehensive post on why it is bad to damage ones liver through alcohol. It comes with severe harmful effects to the body. Addicts needs to seek help when realized on time

  6. Wow so many things that can damage our liver,and consider Alcohol is poison ,by this article can help all people in the world to more save the vital part of body

  7. Liver damage is usually noticed only when approximately 75% of the liver is damaged and can be life threatening. Hence it is important to take suitable precautions to prevent liver damage. Alcoholism is one of the main causes of liver damage worldwide, and a person who finds that he is consuming too much alcohol should get help at the earliest.

  8. This is a great information. So we could know ourselves when we start damaging our liver. Thank you detox gor this wonderful information

  9. Continuous damaging of liver is a sign that the carrier is dieing. It should be noted that it is important we take care of our liver.

  10. This is an informative article. Liver damage is a very dangerous diseases for human. Every human must try to avoid the emergence of liver disease and follow the 9 step stated above.

  11. The lifestyle choices we make can cause liver problem. Excessive drinking of alcohol, multiple partner sex to mention but few. Liver is very important and should be taking seriously

  12. Men experience loss of sex drive and testicular atrophy as a symptoms here, my first time of seeing this and the female period issue. We should really take care of our liver.

  13. Thanks for sharing a great article on of the main parts of the body. It’s a good info , because now a days many people suffers from liver related diseases and it will definitely help.

  14. Thank you very much. You have clearly explained how important the Liver is. This shows that great care should be given to the organ for the body to function at the best.

  15. Wow this is a detailed article on how to take care of the liver. Detox to rehab thank you for sharing this educative and informative article, I have surely learnt something about liver damage, symptoms and ways of preventing it.

  16. Very educative piece, though I know the importance of the liver but this effects are really shocking. One just need to proper the liver because you can’t just change it like you change your cloths.

  17. Prevention is always better than cure, so instead of getting your liver damage, it is better to prevent it from happening. Having one’s liver damage is a devastating situation

  18. Perfect article, all the different symptoms and also its cure are given in great details . must read one from you guys.

  19. Liver disease is a prevalent illness in today’s world, which may be hard to recover from. People needs to try and avoid having this disease. Following the 9 program described on this blog can go a long way in helping and preventing the liver disease. Nice and informative article. Very educative.

  20. This article is really in-depth. This is another eye opener for those who care lessons about their liver. There are equally several factors that can scar and damage the liver. You got only one; use it wisely.

  21. I don’t take my health for granted, especially as I am growing older, I try to make sure I live a healthy life. So this information is of very high importance to me and I am glad I now know how to care for my liver.

  22. This is a well detailed piece of work . Not just that it educative and informative and I have gotten bro know more about the liver and when it is damaged.

  23. thanks for this extensive information about the liver..when the liver is destroyed, the person is as good as dead..this preventive measures will surely help a lot of people protect their liver..it’s a long read but worth it..now , I know how to protect my liver.. really informative

  24. Liver damage is indeed a terrible situation as a result of its negative effects. However, it evidently clear that liver damage is caused by substance abuse. In view of this, drug and substance abuse should be avoided.

  25. Abuse of Alcohol causes liver damage and people should be aware about the signs of liver problem for proper treatment to be given at early stage.

  26. Lots of people don’t know about liver diseases nor know how to care for their liver, which makes this article both Informative and educative. Thanks for this information.

  27. One of the negative effects of substance abuse is liver damage. As highlighted above, drug addicts will suffer more from these consequences. Consequently, rehabilitation is a potent tool from avoiding these side effects.

  28. What an educative and informative article, it really enlightened me about liver.Thanks to rehab for sharing,it will save the life of many

  29. This is an informative article. Liver damage is a very dangerous diseases for human. Don’t take drugs and alcohol. This is very harmful effects of our liver.

  30. This is an educative article. Liver damage is a very bad disease for the human body and it requires taking every step to avoid it. Following the step in this article will help prevent people to contact liver diseases.

  31. This is a matter of great concern. We should pay attention to our food and drink. Our liver is getting damaged due to drugs. Thanks for sharing this important information.

  32. Liver damage causes a lot of damage to the body and health of people. It is necessary to take all precautions in avoiding it in order to live a long lasting life. Nice and educative article.

  33. I believe the consequences that comes with excessive drinking far outweigh any benefit it gives. The above listed signs are really grave.

  34. Nice and informative article written which includes each aspects from symptoms to treatment, agree with all the prevention steps given.

  35. The organ called liver needs to be protected diligently by staying away from alcohol and any other substance in order to live long. Very educative article.

  36. Nice article about liver damage. Never knew that many of the listed factors listed in this article can cause liver damage to people. People need to follow the 9 steps listed here in order to prevent liver damage.

  37. Thanks alot for this insightful teaching about one of the most important organs in our body. We should all follow the steps to keep our liver healthy and not damage it.

  38. Most effects of drug abuse or missuse of substances affects the liver, a very important organ in our body. I really would love this piece accesses by more people.

  39. Being an organ that deals with getting rid of body waste, definitely there will be a big problem in the body. It is therefore recommended to keep body organs like the liver healthy.

  40. Our liver is the most neglected part of our body, This is what people are less care about. But liver has been doing so much for us. Thank you for sharing this info. We should be responsible in out overall health and wellness.

  41. I wish people know that too much alcohol affects the liver badly and stress the liver..maybe this signs of liver damage will be a wake up call for people to protect their liver..when we change our lifestyle choices, we may be able to protect our liver..this article is so educative..

  42. Liver damage has demonstrated one of the dangers of drug addiction. Consequently, rehabilitation is very crucial to drastically reduce the negative effects of this unwholesome practice.

  43. Thank you for this informative write up. People should always go for medical check up so as to determine whatever is wrong with their health especially the liver as it has been explained here.

  44. Thanks for this life saving article. It goes a long way to avoid being killed innocently. People should take to the numerated precautions.

  45. Thank you immensely for the life-saving information. He who possesses information possesses power. Let us avoid these dangers.

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