Bad liver symptoms

Written by caryn anderson Google
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Your liver plays a vital role in your overall well being. It helps digest food and nutrients and filters your blood to remove medications, alcohol and toxins. It stores glucose, creates clotting factors for your blood and manufactures vitamin A. Liver disease interferes with these functions and creates characteristic signs and symptoms like jaundice, cholestasis, liver enlargement, ascites, portal hypertension, hepatic encephalopathy and liver failure. It's good to be alert for the symptoms of liver malfunction.


Jaundice is characterised by the yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes. Your urine may be darkly coloured. Additional symptoms include light-coloured stools, itching, diminished appetitie, nausea and vomiting. Your liver plays a key role in excreting bilirubin from your body. Bilirubin is a darkly coloured greenish-yellow byproduct of haemoglobin. Your liver normally assimilates bilirubin into bile (which is produced in the liver to aid in digestion), which is then carried into the intestines. If your liver is not functioning normally or is inflamed, bilirubin accumulates in the bloodstream and is carried to the skin. At this time, jaundice becomes evident.


Cholestasis is a diminished or halted flow of bile. Somewhere from the liver cells to the very beginning of your small intestine (the duodenum) there is a problem. It can be indicative of liver disease, bile duct disesase and pancreatic disorders. Symptoms of cholestasis include jaundice, darkly-coloured urine, light stools and itching. Additional symptoms include enlargement of the spleen, enlargement of the gallbladder, bone loss, spidery blood vessels, chills, abdominal pain and easy bleeding.

Liver Enlargment

Liver enlargement is exactly what it sounds like. You may experience some discomfort in your abdomen and a full feeling. This is usually detected upon physical examination by your doctor.


Ascites is characterised by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. According to the Merck Online Medical Library, the most common cause of ascites is cirrhosis, but it can be caused by other liver-related disorders as well as some non-liver-related disorders. Symptoms include shortness of breath, diminished appetite, abdominal discomfort and enlargement of the abdomen. It can be caused by cirrhosis, hepatis and other liver problems.

Portal Hypertension

The portal vein carries blood to the liver from the intestine. High blood pressure in this vein is called portal hypertension. This can create the growth of new blood vessels, which connect intestinal blood flow into your body's circulation without being filtered by the liver. Symptoms include ascites, bleeding of the lower oesophagus and gastric bleeding. According to the Merck Online Medical Library, the most common cause of portal hypertension in the United States is cirrhosis.

Hepatic Encephalopathy

When your liver function is compromised, toxins that would normally be filtered out accumulate in the blood. This, in turn, can affect your brain function (hepatic encephalopathy). Symptoms include confusion, mood swings, loss of consciousness, personality changes, impaired consciousness, poor judgment, changes in behaviour, slow speech, slow movements, changes in thinking, drowsiness, disorientation and coma.

Liver Failure

Liver failure can be caused by a variety of liver disorders. It is characterised by an extreme loss of liver function resulting from widespread liver damage. Symptoms include increased bruising and bleeding, jaundice, fatigue, diminished appetite, weakness, altered mental status, failing health and ascites.

If you suspect that you may be at risk for developing a liver disease, talk to your doctor about your risk factors. Diagnostic testing may catch any problems early enough to reverse the damage and enhance your chances for long-term health.

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