The liver is a football-sized organ under your right rib cage. It is important for digestion and removal of toxins from the body. The liver breaks down toxins, such as drugs and alcohol, that can damage the liver, and removes the waste into the blood, which is then cleared by the kidneys.
The liver plays a very important role in the body as it fights infection, metabolizes drugs, extracts energy from food, and basically filters your body’s toxins. It is a very flexible organ that can regenerate itself to perform its work efficiently. However, overdoing it can cause serious liver damage. Repeated damage to the liver can lead to inflammation, scarring, cirrhosis, cancer, and eventually liver failure.
Prevention is important, but early detection and treatment is the next best step. Read on to learn about common warning signs of liver damage.
Retention of fluids
Blood flow to the liver is blocked when scar tissue builds up, called cirrhosis. This results in the liver not being able to do its job effectively, fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity (ascites), and even swelling in the feet and ankles.
Fluid retention is the most common indicator of liver damage, occurring in 50 percent of people with cirrhosis.
Normally, the liver has no problem filtering out bilirubin, the yellow pigment in bile. When the blood cannot be processed effectively, bilirubin builds up, causing the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow. Jaundice caused by liver damage can also cause itchy skin.
Nausea/loss of appetite
When the liver cannot filter toxins effectively, toxins build up in the blood, causing nausea and even vomiting. Persistent nausea is a common symptom of early liver damage. As the injury worsens, symptoms such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other digestive discomfort may appear.
The normal, dark color of stool is due to bile salts secreted by the liver. Pale stools can be a sign of liver damage.
As the stool looks lighter, the urine becomes darker due to the accumulation of bilirubin, which causes jaundice.
Black, tarry stools are a sign of liver disease caused by blood passing through the digestive system. If you vomit blood or notice blood in your stool, seek medical attention immediately.
A damaged liver cannot produce adequate amounts of clotting proteins, which can cause more bruising and bleeding than normal.
Easy bruising can be caused by a variety of factors in addition to liver damage.
Over time, common bad habits can lead to irreversible liver damage: excessive alcohol consumption; lack of sleep; smoking; drug overdose; obesity and poor diet.
It is important to take care of your liver properly to keep it functioning properly, and this can be done by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This means exercising regularly (at least 30 minutes a day, even if it’s a brisk walk), drinking less alcohol, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.