Are you aware that every time you pop a pill or have a drink, it adversely affects your liver? Do you know that the liver sends us signs asking us to rethink before all we can do is to regret?
The liver is the largest organ in our body and is exposed to everything we eat or drink. It aids digestion and removes toxins from all that we consume. However, the changing lifestyle, food habits and uncontrolled use of medicines can affect the liver in many ways and cause damage. The best part is it can regenerate itself. Hence, if your liver is sending you signs, it is time to resist faulty food habits and stand up for your own health. What is important is to be able to pick the warning signs of liver damage.
Here are 10 early signs of liver damage that you should not ignore.
Jaundice or yellowish discolouration is one of the commonest signs of liver damage and is mostly associated with liver problems. The liver normally processes food and the bile pigments, which are yellow in colour. These are processed with the food and are eliminated through the stool. However, in liver problems, these pigments are not used properly, which then accumulate in the blood, resulting in yellowish discolouration or jaundice. It is noted as yellow skin, yellowish colour on the sclera or the white part of the eyes and over the palms and nails too.
White or Black Stools
Normally, the bile pigments impart yellow to brown colour to the stools. When the liver is affected, digestion also gets affected and the bile pigments are not eliminated through the stools. Hence, the stool does not look yellow but begin to appear chalky white or clay coloured. Sometimes, due to advanced changes in liver, bleeding may occur, resulting in black stools. These changes in stools are some of the important signs your liver is not working properly.
Itching skin or skin becoming oversensitive to touch or other materials is also one of the common signs of liver damage. As the liver is unable to function properly, toxins build up in the body, which causes increased sensitivity of the skin. Flaky, itchy skin, which easily reacts to dryness can occur due to liver problems.
Bile pigments, which are not excreted, build up in the blood and pass through the urine. This gives a dark yellow colour to the urine. This is often one of the telltale signs of liver damage.
Loss of Appetite
Any damage to the liver affects digestion, which results in various digestive problems. Loss of appetite or not having the urge to eat is a common symptom of liver problems and must be evaluated.
Indigestion and Vomiting
An upset stomach is one of the early signs of liver damage. Liver problems, often cause nausea, acid reflux, and vomiting, which may really bother to a great extent. Some people experience indigestion, often presented in the form of frequent diarrhoea, as the liver is not functioning well. Some people also experience increased sensitivity to certain foods like gluten, lactose, etc. and consumption of such foods may result in indigestion or diarrhoea.
Abdominal pain is seen in almost all gastric problems. However, abdominal pain in liver problems can be more specific. Pain in the right upper part of the abdomen, just under the ribs is a common sign of liver damage. The pain can be severe, sharp and may also radiate to the right upper shoulder or back. Sometimes, pain due to the the accumulation of excess gas can be felt in the upper middle part of the abdomen or cramping pain can also be felt in the lower abdomen.
A damaged liver can cause the abdomen to swell and also lead to accumulation of fluid. This causes distension of abdomen, medically termed as ascites, which is another warning sign of liver damage. This state usually calls for immediate medical treatment.
Excessive fatigue or a tired feeling, commonly seen in many illnesses, can also be present in liver disorders. As the liver is not functioning properly, it affects the breakdown of food and release of energy. Also, the build-up of toxins and digestive troubles can result in a tired feeling. Many people also experience weight loss due to altered appetite and vomiting, adding to the feeling of fatigue.
Swelling of various body parts is also one of the important warning signs of liver damage. Accumulation of fluid, which leads to swelling can be noted in the legs, ankles, and feet. This is usually seen as pitting edema, which means when you press the swollen area, your finger imprint is left on it, which slowly goes off later on.
In addition to these, a general feeling of being unwell, frequent headaches, increased irritability, unexplained bruising or bleeding can also be related to liver problems.
The liver is an important organ. If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs of liver damage, seek medical help. Appropriate investigations like liver function tests and scans can help to detect liver problems, so that timely treatment can be provided. With proper diet, healthy lifestyle and if required, medications, you can have a healthy liver.
Remember, being watchful can save your liver.
Have a healthy liver, have a healthy life!
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