The liver is a vital organ present under the ribcage on the right side of the abdomen, on top of the right kidney. Its main task is to filter blood from the gastrointestinal tract. It helps assimilate food and chemicals. It synthesizes essential proteins; albumin removes toxins and waste products. The liver can amend when damaged, but chronic liver damage leads to liver failure. If liver failure goes untreated it causes severe damage. Viral infections, medications, excessive alcohol consumption, or a genetic condition may cause liver damage.
Signs of liver damage:
Here are ten alarming signs that appear if you have a damaged liver.
- Abdominal swelling
- Swelling in the legs or ankles
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in urine
- Changes in bowel movements
- Difficulty concentrating and fatigue
- Bleeding or bruising
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased liver enzymes
- Skin changes
1. Abdominal swelling
The bumping of the abdomen is because of the lowering of essential proteins in the blood; the proteins that cause fluid to leave the vessels and collect in the abdomen and other body cavities. Swelling is also caused by increased pressure in the vein that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver. Although a damaged liver can regenerate or compensate, the size and the shape of the organ may modify. These modifications may result in a larger organ that in turn increases the size of the abdomen. The last stage liver diseases or hepatic cirrhosis may cause the abdominal cavity to swell.
2. Swelling in the legs or ankles
Damaging the liver may cause fluid to spread in the leg and ankle area. This buildup is because of a deficiency of a blood protein; that controls fluid from leakage into the tissues. The legs and ankles are affected because fluid moves, under the influence of gravitational pull, down towards the feet. The end-stage of liver damage can cause swelling.
3. Changes in appetite
Bile production gets slow if the liver is damaged, and its lower concentration causes difficulty in metabolizing the fats in the meal. A damaged liver has difficulty in digesting proteins and fats from food. In addition to this, if liver damage is of a severe type, the vessels in the esophagus and stomach may dilate. In some cases, the dilated vessels may lead, which is a medical emergency. People with severe liver damage may experience nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
4. Changes in urine
Dark orange, brown, or cola-colored urine may be a cause of liver disease. The color of the urine becomes darkish if bilirubin is building up too much by the kidneys, and the liver is not able to break it down. Tea-colored urine is an indication of acute liver disease and requires emergency medical treatment.
5. Changes in bowel movements
Digestion slows down when the liver struggles hard to perform its functions. The level of toxins increases and the body tries to compensate it by excreting them in the bowels. This excretion leads to severe constipation or diarrhea. The bilirubin that causes a change in urine color may also change the color of stool and give it a brown appearance.
6. Difficulty concentrating and fatigue
To carry out its various functions a damaged liver has to struggle more. This may lead to problems of concentration and fatigue. The reason behind this is the liver is filtering out toxins more slowly than normal. The liver may be sluggish, so work hard to absorb the required nutrients. Advanced liver disease can cause brain damage or hepatic encephalopathy due to high levels of toxins in the body.
7. Bleeding or bruising
The liver is responsible for the formation of blood clotting proteins. A damaged liver found it difficult to produce those proteins and causes increased bleeding and bruising. Further complications may occur after the creation of a new blood vessel to bypass the damaged organ. These blood vessels formed in the esophagus and stomach mostly, they begin to swell. This swelling causes critical bleeding because these vessels are prone to rupture, especially, if blood clotting factors are compromised. Vomiting blood and black stool are signs of bleeding in the esophagus or stomach and require immediate treatment.
8. Increased blood pressure
A damaged liver has blocked blood vessels, so blood cannot flow properly through them. This condition creates pressure on the blood vessels around the liver and causes portal hypertension; named after the hepatic portal vein that is the main vessel providing blood to the liver. High pressure thus causes veins to swell in the esophagus, stomach, and rectum area. Swollen veins may rupture causing bleeding results in severe complications.
9. Increased liver enzymes
Increased liver enzymes are a result of severe damage, but it may not appear in every person with acute liver damage. Liver damage shows an increase in liver enzymes in the bloodstream, and it is an indication that the organ is under attack from inflammation, toxins, or viruses.
10. Skin changes
Liver damage can cause hormonal changes that, in turn, cause the dilation of small blood vessels. It creates spider veins that are most noticeable on the face and legs. Some common symptoms include a blotchy redness of the facial skin, palms and feet. In advanced liver damage jaundice happens due to the building up of bilirubin in large amounts and not being metabolized by the liver because of its poor functionality. But bilirubin can be elevated in other medical conditions as well.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 S Saleha