What Are the Signs of Liver Damage?
Liver damage is widespread among people all over the world today and knowing its symptoms, along with early warning signs, can make a huge difference to your health and wellness.
The liver is the largest organ inside your body, but it does not feel pain. Consequently, many people have developed fairly advanced liver damage without experiencing any symptoms whatsoever.
This is unfortunate, because your liver performs a variety of functions that are critical to keeping you in good health. It purifies harmful toxins, aids in the digestive process and converts the food you eat into energy. So, if your liver isn’t healthy, your general health will suffer, too.
Since liver damage and disease can have multiple causes, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms so that you will recognize any red flags that might signal developing or existing problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Liver Damage
Here’s some warning signs if your liver is damaged or diseased:
- Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin or sclera of the eyes
- Skin itches constantly
- Swollen abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Pale color of bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Tarry or bloody bowel movement
These symptoms of liver disease or damage may be attributed to several possible causes.
What Causes Liver Damage?
Liver damage or liver disease can be caused from a variety of causes. In fact, there are over 100 different diseases of the liver.
Here are some of the most common contributing factors to developing liver damage:
- Hepatitis A. Causes swelling of the liver and poor function. It is caused by the HAV virus.
- Hepatitis B. Also causes swelling of the liver and can progress to scarring of the liver and/or liver cancer. This one is caused by the HBV virus.
- Hepatitis C. Same symptoms and possible long term effects as Hepatitis B. It is caused by the HCV virus. There is currently no vaccine.
- Fatty Liver Disease. This occurs when there is a build up of too much fat in the liver due to alcohol abuse. It can cause your liver to swell and may progress to scarring known as cirrhosis. Two types:
- NASH, or Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis. NASH is basically a form of Fatty Liver Disease that can lead to a swollen liver and associated damage. It is unrelated to alcohol.
- ALD, or Alcoholic Liver Disease. This liver disease is a direct result of consuming too much alcohol and can cause cirrhosis and ultimately, death.
Early warning signs of liver damage include nausea, loss of appetite, unusual fatigue and diarrhea. If you believe you may have liver damage, take heart – the liver is able to regenerate itself. In fact, it is the only organ in your body that can regenerate and completely repair damage. However, these regenerative abilities only go so far before it is overwhelmed.
How to Reverse Liver Damage
If you have liver damage, don’t start making out your will just yet. It isn’t a death sentence. There are things you can do to reverse the damage and allow your liver to repair itself and regenerate to become healthy once again.
Here are some things you can do and lifestyle changes you should make to reverse liver damage:
- If you have hepatitis, there are drugs and antivirals to treat it – during treatment, you must exercise lightly, drink lots of water, eat fruit and eat light, low-fat meals to give your liver a bit of a rest.
- If you drink alcohol – stop. Stop now.
- Diabetics should strive to maintain a healthy blood glucose level. (There is a strong correlation between diabetes and fatty liver disease.)
- If you are overweight, shed those extra pounds.
- Eat a nutritious diet.
- Avoid taking such OTC pain relievers as Tylenol, known to cause liver damage if taken in excess.
- Stay physically fit and active.
- Try liver-healthy supplements to boost your overall health.
Liver damage affects approximately 35% of the U.S. population, so if you have it, you are not alone. Knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of liver damage and then taking action with lifestyle changes can reverse it and give your liver a chance to regenerate and repair itself.
If you have liver damage such as fatty liver disease, turn things around and get you – and your liver – back on the path to bountiful good health!