The liver is the body’s largest glandular organ and has hundreds of important functions. The three most essential functions are producing bile to aid digestion, cleansing harmful toxins from the blood and storing glucose to fulfill the body’s energy needs.
With the vital role that your liver plays in your body, it is important to pay attention to its health. Diet, exercise and adequate sleep are three keys to a healthy liver.
By avoiding an excess of toxic food and beverages, such as alcohol, coffee and refined grains, you’ll be doing a great favor to your liver’s health.
When anything goes wrong with the liver, the effects can be seen in different functions and parts of the body. There are several types of liver problems. The most common are cirrhosis, cystic disease, fatty liver disease, gallstones, and hepatitis.
Always remember that if you look after your liver, it will surely look after your health. By keeping an eye open for any early signs of liver damage, you can seek treatment sooner rather than later and help your liver make a full recovery.
Here are the 10 early signs of liver damage.
1. Nausea and Vomiting
Many people ignore nausea and vomiting as it is usually not considered to be a serious medical problem.
If nausea and vomiting occur separately or together without any known reason, such as motion sickness, dizziness, a migraine, food poisoning, early pregnancy, anxiety and depression, it can be due to a kidney or liver problem.
People suffering from liver damage often have a persistent feeling of nausea. This arises due to the liver’s diminished ability to process and eliminate toxins. Changes in metabolism and digestion also cause nausea and vomiting.
Constant feelings of nausea or vomiting can wreak havoc on your health and should be investigated thoroughly by a doctor.
2. General Weakness and Tiredness
Constant feeling of fatigue and tiredness can also be a tell-tale sign of improper liver functioning. It is the liver that breaks down food to release energy required for performing daily tasks.
When the liver is not in good condition, your body needs to work harder in order to survive and hence needs more rest.
Plus, fatigue and weakness are likely to worsen due to an increase in toxic products in the blood, which the damaged liver is not able to eliminate properly.
If the feelings of weakness and tiredness are present along with any other symptoms mentioned in this article, consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
3. Loss of Appetite
Loss of appetite is also one of the early signs that your liver is not working properly. If you experience loss of appetite along with any other symptoms mentioned here, make an appointment with your doctor immediately as it could be a sign of chronic liver disease, hepatitis or kidney failure.
People with liver damage may not feel like eating anything, due to the problem with bile production. Bile helps break down fats so that they can be digested. When food is not digested properly, it often leads to loss of appetite and even severe weight loss.
Significant changes in appetite can also make a person weak and tired, which can further hinder recovery.
4. Digestive Issues
The liver plays an active role in the digestion process through the production of bile. Bile helps process the nutrients absorbed from the small intestine and plays an important role in digesting fat.
Thus, if the liver begins to malfunction, it can result in digestive problems like diarrhea and indigestion.
Abnormalities in bile production can also lead to gallstones, abdominal bloating, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and intolerance to fatty foods and alcohol.
When the damage is severe, it can cause severe abdominal pain that often sends people to the doctor.
5. Changes in Urine Color
If you are drinking enough fluid and your urine has a darker color, it may be an indication of a liver problem. Dark-colored urine can look orange, amber or brown.
The change in urine color occurs due to an increased level of bilirubin in the bloodstream. This happens when the liver is unable to eliminate bilirubin via excretion through the kidneys.
Dark urine can also be caused by dehydration, taking vitamin B supplements, side effects of antibiotics, enzyme deficiencies, a urinary tract infection and kidney problems.
If your urine is persistently dark, you should visit your doctor for a diagnosis.
6. Yellowing of Skin
One of the early signs of liver damage is jaundice, where yellowing of the skin, eyes, tongue and fingernails or fingertips is noticeable.
Jaundice is caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood and body tissue that the liver normally would get rid of along with old red blood cells. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that is formed by the breakdown of dead red blood cells in the liver.
When bilirubin accumulates in your bloodstream and then on your skin, it takes on a yellowish hue.
As jaundice may also indicate a serious problem with your gallbladder or pancreas, do not take it lightly and follow your doctor’s advice.