20 Warning Signs of Liver Damage to Never Ignore
It may very well be your most important organ. Listen to it.
Your liver does a lot for your health. As one of the body's largest organs, it's responsible for metabolic functions like converting nutrients from your diet so your body can use them and making sure toxic substances are flushed out before they cause any harm, according to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. When your liver is in trouble, though, there are a handful of ways it lets you know—and here are 20 signs of liver damage to watch out for. And, as these signs of liver problems commonly stem from excess alcohol consumption, you may want to consider taking our test to see if your boozing habits are healthy or not.
You Have Super-Itchy Skin
Primary biliary cholangitis — a chronic disease that destroys the bile ducts in your liver — doesn't typically have super-noticeable symptoms, but one early sign is experiencing itchy skin. Sure, your skin might just be dry, but if it's becoming a regular thing, it might be worth getting checked out — especially because itchy skin is also an indicator of cirrhosis of the liver. And for more about skin symptoms, check out these 20 Skin Symptoms That Indicate More Serious Health Issues.
Your Skin or Eyes Are Turning Yellow
Seeing the whites of your eyes start to turn yellow — or experiencing yellowing of your skin — can be incredibly scary, but it has a solid explanation: it's called jaundice, it's due to a high level of bilirubin in the body, which is a yellowish pigment that's secreted by the liver. If you do notice the discoloration, it could be from many different signs of liver damage, from cirrhosis to hepatitis B. And for more reasons your skin may be deteriorating, bone up on the 20 Reasons Your Thyroid Is More Important Than You Imagined.
You've Gained a Lot of Weight
If you're suddenly gaining weight out of nowhere, your liver might be to blame. It could be a sign you have liver cirrhosis, a disease that develops slowly and replaces healthy liver tissue with scar tissue, blocking blood flow through the liver and inhibiting the organ from working properly. For more weight loss inspiration, check out 50 Genius Weight-Loss Motivation Tricks.
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.
Your Palms Are Red
Speaking of red flags, do you suddenly have red palms for no reason? It could be due to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that involves too much fat being stored in liver cells that affects people who barely drink — or totally avoid! — alcohol.
Your Sleep Schedule Is Out of Whack
There are many things that 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.
Your Memory Has Gotten Worse
Forgetting where you left your car keys is one thing, but if your memory has gotten much worse lately, there might be a reason for that. When you're experiencing liver failure, your organ can't properly remove toxins from the blood, and that can result in them building up in the brain — aka hepatic encephalopathy. Unfortunately, one of the results of that is memory loss. To help counteract this, master the 10 Ways to Develop a Photographic Memory.
You're Always Tired
Feeling really tired lately, no matter what you do? Liver disease might be to blame. One of the most incredibly common signs of liver damage is chronic fatigue, which according to a 2006 study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, could occur due to changes in neurotransmission within the brain. If you find yourself regularly exhausted at all time, learn the 50 Ways to Be A Higher-Energy Person Immediately.
Your Appetite Has Disappeared
You used to chow down like you were in a food competition, and now you're never hungry. So what gives? Another one of the most common signs of liver damage is a loss of appetite, making your non-existent hunger pangs something to be weary of.
You're a Man Experiencing Enlarged Breasts
One of the most shocking warning signs of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is experiencing enlarged breasts if you're a man. It's a very mind-boggling occurrence, but there's an explanation: it's thought that the growth of excess breast tissue — aka gynecomastia — occurs due to an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. And for more on preventative care, bone up on The 15 Most Common Types of Cancer.
Your Personality Is Changing
Experiencing changes to your personality can be scary — and sometimes it might be others that notice before you do. Just like how hepatic encephalopathy can cause memory loss, all those toxins building up in your brain can also decrease mental function, causing you to not act like yourself.
You Bruise Really Easily
As you get older, your body can start to bruise more easily due to your skin getting thinner. If there's really no explanation for why more marks are showing up on your body, though (meaning you're relatively young), it might be one of the signs of liver damage. Live disease can also make it a more frequent occurrence.
You Have Swollen Legs and Ankles
Liver disease can be caused by everything from alcohol use to obesity, and one common warning sign is something you probably wouldn't expect: swelling in your legs and ankles. If you're experiencing the puffiness and aren't sure why, a visit to your doc might be in order to make sure it's not something serious.
You Feel Confused
Unfortunately, the hepatic encephalopathy caused by liver failure can also mess with your ability to understand things. This can result in you feeling confused about things that wouldn't normally confuse you.
You're Having Body Pains
You haven't been working out more than usual, so what gives with all your body pain? One possible reason is primary biliary cholangitis, which aside from causing itchy skin can also lead to bone, muscle, or joint pain.
You Feel Really Bloated
If your bloating can't be blamed on a big meal, it might be due to the buildup of fluid in the abdomen, which is known as ascites. Since abdominal swelling is one of the warning signs of liver damage, it's a good idea to make a doctor's appointment, just in case.
Your Urine Is Dark
Seeing dark urine in the toilet after going to the bathroom can be a total shocker — and it's also one of the tell-tail signs of liver damage. While bilirubin is responsible for the yellowing of the eyes or skin, it can also change the color or your pee due to being excreted through the kidneys.
You Can't Concentrate
Let's be real — everyone has dealt with concentration issues. Sometimes your brain just doesn't want to work. If you feel like you're having trouble concentrating regularly, though, that could also be your liver giving you a warning sign that it's failing.
You Have the Chills, All the Time
Have a chronic case of the chills that no amount of cozy blankets can fix? It could be a sign of cholestasis during liver disease, which occurs when the organ's flow of bile is reduced or has stopped completely. And for more great health advice, learn The 100 Ways to Live to 100.
You Have Dry Eyes or a Dry Mouth
There are plenty of different reasons behind experiencing dry eyes or a dry mouth — from your age to the medications you're taking — but one possible culprit is a lot more serious. Primary biliary cholangitis is known to cause the problem, but luckily it's an early symptom of the chronic disease. And for more health issues to keep an eye out for, learn the 20 Warning Signs Your Kidneys Send You.
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