The liver is the second biggest organ in the body. While it is known for its capacity to regenerate, the prospect of any kind of damage to the liver is scary as it plays such a key role in our body’s functioning. It performs multiple functions including breakdown of nutrients that are ingested like fat and detoxification of blood. It truly is an organ without which you cannot function. Generally, there is very little warning of any kind of damage to the liver. Hence, we need to be really alert to learn of any such damage in the initial stages when it is reversible. Knowledge about such symptoms can help us to get early diagnosis and treatment.
Here are a few symptoms that you need to watch out for. If you experience any of these, it might be prudent to visit a doctor and get him to check on the functioning of your liver.
Your friends might tease you about your beer belly and the pounds you are piling on, but it might not be just because of the food you eat. A swollen belly might point to ascites, which is caused by damage to the liver and results in fluid buildup within the abdominal area. Ascites is known to be caused by a damaged liver. The most common causes of the condition are alcoholic liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Another symptom of ascites is swelling of the legs. Generally, ascites is treated by reducing the intake of salt and administration of diuretics. If ascites is ignored, it could result in the damage becoming so extensive that a liver transplant is needed.
Jaundice is one of the most obvious signs of damage to the liver and is characterized by fatigue and yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. Jaundice occurs when the liver fails to remove bilirubin or bile from red blood cells in an effective manner. The underlying liver disease needs to be treated before jaundice is resolved.
Pain in the upper right abdominal area
Pain in this region could point to an inflammation of the liver. This could be caused due to various underlying conditions like hepatitis, cirrhosis and ascites. Though this is generally resolved in the short term by taking over the counter medication, the underlying cause still remains and will need further treatment. In some cases, taking over the counter medication can aggravate the damage to the liver.
Change in color of urine and stool
Though some changes in the color of stool and urine can be attributed to the kind of foods that we eat, if the urine becomes light yellow and continues to remain pale for a long time, it means that the liver might be damaged. As in the case of jaundice, it indicates that the liver is unable to break down bilirubin it is not being removed from the body. Stool gets its brown color from bilirubin. When the liver is unable to breakdown bilirubin, the bilirubin goes to the kidneys and is excreted from the body through urine. This turns urine dark yellow while stool loses its dark brown color.
One of the most common symptoms of damage to the liver is a constant feeling of tiredness and weakness to the muscles. This is usually the case when the damage is quite extensive. The liver helps to breakdown and store glucose which serves as a source of energy for the body. When it is damaged, it cannot release enough glucose for the body to function. This is why such people experience fatigue.
If you experience any of these symptoms, visit a doctor immediately as the condition can be managed and treated if detected in time.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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