Signs and Symptoms of Liver Damage

Written by janet hunt
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Signs and Symptoms of Liver Damage
(Gray's Anatomy, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

The liver is the second largest organ in the human body. It is essential in the normal functioning of your body. A few important functions of the liver are storage of vitamins, sugars and fat, and removal of harmful substances and waste products from the blood. In a person suffering liver damage, these functions are diminished. However, the liver has "self-healing" properties, being the only organ in the human body with the capability of regenerating itself.

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Non-Specific Symptoms

Many non-specific symptoms of liver damage can occur that could be related to other diseases and conditions as well. A few of these non-specific symptoms include chronic fatigue, abdominal pain, weakness and appetite loss. A blood test by your physician can often determine if you have any elevation of enzyme levels in the blood that would leak from a damaged liver. This will help the physician determine if your symptoms are liver-related or caused by some other condition or illness.

Specific Symptoms

If you have any of the following symptoms that are specific to liver damage, you should make an appointment with your physician immediately for evaluation: jaundice or yellowing of the skin; skin irritation and itching; or increased bruising. Remember, the liver is the only self-regenerating organ in the body, and damage, if caught in time, can be stopped and possibly reversed.

Advanced Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of advanced liver damage include: swelling and accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and legs, also known as oedema; kidney failure; coma and mental delusions; increased bacterial infections; gastrointestinal bleeding. If liver damage is allowed to continue unchecked, these symptoms can be followed by death. Attention to early liver damage symptoms can prevent progression to the advanced stage of the disease.

Drug-Induced Liver Disease Symptoms

One of the most common drugs causing liver disease is acetaminophen. Taken according to dosage, acetaminophen is safe. However, overuse or overdose can cause the following symptoms: nausea and vomiting, increased levels of liver enzymes in the blood, inflammation of liver cells or hepatitis, blood clots in the veins of the liver, dark-coloured urine, fever, light-coloured stool or jaundice. Anyone who is suspected of taking an overdose of acetaminophen should immediately be taken to a hospital emergency room to be evaluated.

Alcohol-Induced Liver Disease Symptoms

Alcohol abuse can result in alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, in which scar tissue is formed from damage and the liver's attempt to heal itself. The scarring leads to the "cirrhosis." Some of the common symptoms are: Ascites, or retention of water in the abdomen, and increased risk of infection. In advanced cirrhosis, sometimes the only hope for the patient is a liver transplant.

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