12 Alarming Signs of Liver Damage - BuzzFeel
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liver damage – 12 Alarming signs of liver damage 

The liver is the largest organ in the human body. It’s about the size of a football and it’s situated on the right side of the abdomen, just beneath the rib cage. The liver is also responsible for several vital functions; in fact, it does more than 500 essential jobs be careful liver damage – 12 Alarming signs of liver damage.

Since it does so many important jobs, nature has ensured that the liver can sustain itself. It’s the only visceral organ in the human body that can regenerate itself. However, despite its ability to repair itself, the liver can still become damaged. Excessive drug and alcohol use, fatty liver disease, and hepatitis C are just some of the things that can cause liver damage.


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If this organ becomes damaged and that damage is severe, liver disease and liver failure can occur. It’s important to be aware of the signs of liver damage so that you can receive prompt medical treatment. 

1. signs of liver damage You’re Losing Weight

While suddenly gaining weight can be one of the signs of liver damage, losing weight can be a symptom, too. Seeing the number drop on the scale isn’t just a sign of liver cirrhosis — it’s also a red flag of hepatitis C, a viral infection that leads to the inflammation of the liver. And for more great health advice, learn the 20 Best Ways to Have A Healthy Thyroid.

2. Pain in the back

primary biliary cirrhosis

From a strained muscle to simply sleeping in a strange position, many things can cause back pain. However, many people are unaware that a damaged liver can be responsible for the pain they are feeling in their back. Typically, any pain that is experienced with liver damage is felt in the upper right side of the abdomen (as stated above); but in some cases, the pain can radiate to the back.


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3. signs of liver damage Pain in the right shoulder

cirrhosis ultrasound

The right shoulder is another part of the body where you might experience pain if your liver is damaged. Several conditions can inflame the liver, such as alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, viral hepatitis, and cancer. Whatever the cause, as the liver becomes inflamed, it can push on nerves that extend up into the right shoulder.

This pain is often accompanied by pain in the upper right region of the abdomen and possibly pain in the back. When people experience pain in their right shoulder, they usually don’t associate it with liver damage; however, if your right shoulder is in pain and you are experiencing discomfort in your abdomen or any other signs on this list, you could be suffering from liver damage. Make sure that you schedule an appointment for a complete physical. 

4. Yellowing of the eyes and skin

If you notice a yellowish hue in your eyes, the skin, or both, it could be a sign that your liver has been damaged. This yellow discoloration is a condition known as jaundice, and while it is a common symptom associated with liver damage and disease, it is very alarming to experience. Why does liver damage cause jaundice? – It has to do with one of the primary functions of the organ.

It breaks down old blood cells in the body, and one of the byproducts that are created when these blood cells are broken down is bilirubin, a substance that has a yellowish pigment. A healthy liver will dispose of bilirubin; however, if the organ is damaged, it can’t process the substance and instead of being disposed of, it will collect in the bloodstream and make the skin and eyes look yellowish.

Read also: 6 Most Important Things About Liver Cancer You Must Know

5. Pain in the joints

decompensated liver disease

There are several reasons why you may experience pain in the joints. Excessive use and wear and tear can lead to arthritis that has nothing to do with the function of your liver. However, if you are suffering from hepatitis C, a condition that primarily affects the liver, you could also develop inflammatory joint disease. If you contract hepatitis C, your immune system will respond by creating inflammation.

This inflammation is meant to protect the body from the infection; however, it can also lead to pain and stiffness in the joints. If you are experiencing joint pain and stiffness, speak to your doctor. Testing could reveal that you do you have hepatitis C. If that is the case, it is highly likely that your liver has undergone damage. Depending on how advanced the illness is, the damage could be mild or severe.


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6. Spots on the skin

If your liver isn’t functioning properly, you could start developing strange spots on your skin. The spots may appear in the shape of an asterisk or a spider and are aptly referred to as spider angiomas. The center will feature a red spot and extensions that are reddish or purplish will extend outwards, creating the look of a spider web.

These spots are swollen blood vessels that get trapped underneath the surface of the skin. Spider angiomas are not uncommon, as they occur in about 15 percent of adults and children who are perfectly healthy. But, if you have more than three of these spots on your skin, it could be a sign of liver damage or disease. The reason why a damaged liver can cause spider angiomas is because of issues with clotting, which can appear near the surface of the skin.

7. Mental confusion

liver ultrasound

Another alarming symptom that can be associated with liver damage is mental confusion. Many patients who are suffering from liver damage often lose their train of thought easily, forget where they are, who people are, and forget words or what they were doing. The mental confusion that may be associated with liver damage is similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is not uncommon for patients or their loved ones to believe that Alzheimer’s is developing; however, in reality, the root of the problem is damage to their liver. When the liver isn’t functioning properly, high levels of copper can buildup in both the bloodstream and the brain, which can disrupt the function of the brain. Confusion is usually a sign of advanced liver damage or disease, so it usually is not the only or the first symptom that a person will experience.

8.  signs of liver damage Odd colored stools

Though bowel movements aren’t something that most people like to talk about, it is important to pay attention to your stools. They can tell you a lot about the state of your health. If your stools have developed a color that seems more unusual than normal, it could be a sign that your liver is under distress. For example, if your stools are pale in color, it might indicate that issues with your liver exist.

The liver metabolizes bilirubin, and when it is damaged, it can’t do this job effectively, which can lead to pale stools. Very dark or black colored stools can also be a sign of liver damage. If this organ isn’t functioning properly, pressure in the vein that transports blood from the gut to the liver increases and blood passes through the stool. The frequency of your bowel movements can change, as well.


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9. Fluid retention in the abdomen

Liver damage can do more to the abdomen than make it feel achy and painful; it can also cause fluid retention in this part of the body. When fluid abnormally accumulates in the abdomen, it is known as ascites. This fluid is the usual serous fluid, which is clear or pale yellow. Many conditions can cause ascites, including cancer and congestive heart failure; however, the most common cause of this condition is cirrhosis of the liver or advanced liver disease.

Though the correlation between ascites and liver damage isn’t clearly understood, it is believed that it is the result of an increased amount of pressure in blood flow to the liver. Some also believe that the decreased levels of albumin a protein that is created by the liver – also plays a role in ascites that is related to liver damage. 

10. signs of liver damage Your Sleep Schedule Is Out of Whack

Many things can disturb your sleep pattern, but a 2012 study published in the Egyptian Journal of Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis found one possible culprit is liver cirrhosis, which can make it especially hard to get a good night’s rest — even if you’re counting sleep like it’s your job. If it turns out your liver’s fine and you’re still having trouble nodding off, you may want to check out The 10 Best Pillows For A Better Night’s Sleep.


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11. Highly unpleasant breath

There are so many things that can lead to halitosis or chronic bad breath. Using tobacco products, tonsil stones, problems with the sinuses, eating pungent foods, low levels of saliva production, and tooth decay are just some of the factors that can contribute to bad breath. However, you might be surprised to learn that foul-smelling breath can also be a sign of liver damage. 

When liver damage becomes so severe that the organ eventually fails, it can cause halitosis. This foul breath is a condition known as Fetor hepaticus. The odor is musty and overpowering and it is the result of dimethyl sulfide, which develops when the liver isn’t functioning properly. If you people are telling you that your breath is an issue or if it is so bad that you notice it yourself, it may be a sign that you are suffering from liver damage.

12. signs of liver damage Abdominal aches and pains

ammonia levels

If you start to experience any unexplained pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen, it could be a sign that you are suffering from liver damage. The pain can range. It could feel like a dull ache that comes and goes, or it could come on suddenly and out of nowhere and feel like a sharp, stabbing pain. Though the liver does take up a large portion of the abdominal cavity, the largest part is located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen.


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If this organ is damaged, it could become inflamed, and the inflammation could lead to pain. Damage could be the result of excessive alcohol use, taking too many medications (particularly medications that contain acetaminophen), fatty liver disease, or hepatitis C. If you are experiencing any unexplained pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen, seek immediate medical care.

read also: Greatest 15 Foods That Cleanse Your Liver

See also: Did you Know 7 Amazing Simple Tricks to Relieve Stress and Tension!

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