How to tell if liver is swollen?

Written by john zaremba
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If you have an uncomfortable feeling in your abdomen, it might be a sign that your liver is enlarged. Liver enlargement is not in itself dangerous, but often it is a symptom of a far more serious condition. Checking for liver enlargement requires you to assess your abdominal pain, look for discolouration of the skin, consider your risk factors and follow up with your doctor.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Check for sensitivity to touch. Feel along the curve of your rib cage on the right side of your chest. If this causes discomfort, your liver may be enlarged.

  2. 2

    Take note of any abdominal pain. Enlarged liver can cause you to feel full or can cause otherwise unexplained abdominal pain.

  3. 3

    Check your skin colour. If the enlargement of your liver has affected its function, this can cause jaundice--a condition that turns the skin yellow.

  4. 4

    Consider your risk. Certain behaviours cause liver enlargement. These include alcohol abuse and a diet that is very high in iron.

  5. 5

    See your doctor. Self-testing helps, but only your doctor can make a proper diagnosis. If you suspect you have liver enlargement, leave nothing to chance.

Tips and warnings

  • If you suspect that you have an enlarged liver, it's vital to get immediate medical attention. Liver enlargement is not in itself a disease but can be a symptom of another serious illness, such as hepatitis, liver cancer, congestive heart failure or leukaemia.

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