Eight Classic Symptoms of Liver Damage

Eight Classic Symptoms of Liver Damage
May 31 06:58 2021 by admin Print This Article

The liver, the second largest organ of our body, is positioned in the abdominal cavity towards the upper right corner. It performs many functions, some of which are listed below.

  • Production of bile which aids in digesting food and getting rid of waste
  • Storage of excess fat which is used up during periods of starvation.
  • Production of proteins that aid in blood clotting.

Looking after your liver 

The liver is the only organ that has the ability to regenerate when it is injured. But injury beyond a point will cause permanent damage to it. Damage to the liver progresses (sometimes without symptoms) from one stage to the next until it finally results in liver failure. Liver failure can be chronic or acute.

Sudden onset of liver failure is referred to as acute, whereas in chronic failure, the patient would have been suffering from liver damage for some time. Chronic damage usually proceeds through the stages of inflammation, scarring, and severe scarring before resulting in liver failure.  Acute liver damage is sudden and often severe, for example, from Paracetamol overdose.

As mentioned, liver damage does not produce obvious symptoms in the early stages. However, treatment will be most effective only when rendered early. Hence, the need arises to take notice of the signs which may be a call for attention to a liver disorder that is just starting.

Symptoms to watch out for: 

  • Nausea/Vomiting: This is one of the initial signs to look out for. Improper waste excretion causes this feeling of nausea. It might also be accompanied by a lack of hunger and problems with digestion leading to weight loss as well.
  • Jaundiced skin and eyes: When the liver doesn’t function properly, the waste products are not flushed out. As a result, the level of bilirubin increases. This increased bilirubin leads to yellowing of skin and eyes.
  • Stomach pain on the upper right side: Cirrhosis presents as abdominal pain on the right. The pain may either be steady or it might be fluctuating in nature.
  • Bruise formation (for a relatively light injury): Liver produces the proteins necessary for clot formation. When the liver malfunctions, these proteins are not produced. Hence, the person might get bruised easily.
  • Tiredness: When waste products are not eliminated from the body, fatigue might result. This fatigue is chronic, and the feeling of tiredness does not go away.
  • Pot Belly with bloating of arms and legs: In medical terms, abdomen bloating is called ascites. With improper liver functioning, fluids accumulate and present as abdominal swelling. At times, due to the action of gravity, these fluids will also fill up in the arms and legs. As a result, the limbs will also appear swollen.
  • Skin itching: When the concentration of bile salts is high, the salts accumulate and get deposited under the skin. This leads to itchiness.
  • Diarrhoea: As the liver plays a key role in digestion, it’s malfunctioning inevitably leads to issues with digestion and consequently diarrhoea.

It is to be noted that in later stages cognitive loss might also be present. This happens when the accumulation of waste products starts to affect the brain. It may present as memory loss and changes in behaviour.

Risk factors 

  • Alcohol consumption is a huge risk factor. Alcohol-related liver disease or ARLD is indeed a concern these days. The amount of alcohol that can be safely consumed by a person depends on individual factors like weight and gender. Women tend to absorb alcohol more than men, and hence their risk of liver disease is more.
  • Being obese increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Eating right and practicing good lifestyle habits are important. NAFLD’s prevalence is increasing nowadays, leading to the need for liver transplant. Fortunately, NAFLD can be reversed by eating right in the early stages.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be cleansed properly to make sure there are no remnants of pesticides in them. Pesticides when ingested contribute to toxins in the blood. These toxins might damage the liver.
  • Overdosing on acetaminophen (paracetamol) is extremely harmful to the liver.
  • Always consult a doctor before taking health supplements. It is also risky to club two supplements together. Herbal supplements too should be taken with care. Your doctor should be aware of all the medications you are consuming.
  • Certain auto-immune diseases attack the liver cells thereby damaging them.
  • Genetic factors play a role in increasing risk of liver disease. Be more vigilant if any close blood relative had (or is suffering from) liver damage.

Prevention is always better than cure 

  • Eat healthy, exercise regularly, and your liver will take care of itself. Eating a fibre-rich diet filled with fruits and vegetables along with adequate protein and cutting down on sugar consumption helps a lot.
  • Hepatitis spreads through blood as well as body fluids. If you are in the healthcare field, make sure you follow safe practices to avoid contracting Hepatitis.
  • Vaccination is available for Hepatitis A & B. Do get vaccinated to protect yourself.
  • Do not share needles, razors, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Certain sprays (like insecticide sprays) can have harmful chemicals. Protect yourself if using them.
  • Cigarette smoking harms the liver. Stop smoking.
  • Do not mix medications with alcohol.
  • Hepatitis C might be silent without causing any distress. You can get yourself tested to find out if you are suffering from it.

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is best to consult a doctor to rule out liver disease.

The doctor will enquire about your and your family’s medical history.  Your eating and other lifestyle habits will also be looked into. Any medication you might be on should be communicated to your doctor (including painkillers).

The exact treatment plan suggested for you will depend on your condition. A liver transplant will be considered only if all other treatment options have failed.

To conclude, we can indeed say that the liver is a comparatively low-maintenance organ. On your part, you have to take care to treat it right!

This article is available in audio format, click “Play” button to listen.


Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Hosur, Salem, Tirunelveli and Bengaluru, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.

Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777 • Tirunelveli – 0462 4006000 • Bengaluru – 080 6801 6801

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  1. pugazh
    May 31, 13:52 #1 pugazh

    good information

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dhanya
    June 25, 03:20 #2 Dhanya

    Prevention is better than cure is always true. Good blog!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Idhaya
    December 09, 11:03 #3 Idhaya

    There are some symptoms here which we would never think of connecting with liver disease. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply to this comment

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