7 Early Symptoms of Liver Damage
You’ve probably seen quite a few commercials about medications designed to reverse the effects of liver damage. Many of these prescriptions were created for liver diseases like Hepatitis, but some are for liver problems in general. Why? Because the liver plays a crucial role in how your body functions. You can’t live without it.
The main job of this organ is to filter your blood, help your blood clot, and even help your digestive system do its job. In fact, there are over 500 different things that this organ does – which makes liver damage such an important issue to catch early on. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms, all of which might signify that your liver is damaged.
1) You Bruise More Easily
One of the first early symptoms of liver damage is bruising more easily. This is mostly due to the fact that the liver helps your blood clot. A bruise is essentially clotted blood under the skin. The size of the bruise depends on how hard you were hit (or how hard you hit something.)
When these bruises appear larger and more frequently, this means that your blood isn’t clotting as well as it did before. This could be because your liver isn’t functioning as well.
2) Your Urine Changes Color
Another sign of liver damage is urine that’s consistently dark in color. This is due to the bilirubin ending up in your urine, where it gets filtered out of your body. While dark yellow urine is fine – it’s actually a sign of dehydration – brownish colored urine is problematic.
If it appears brownish all or most of the time, then you might have liver damage. With that said, if it looks that way just once in a while, then you may have some other type of issue. No matter what, make sure that you check with your doctor and tell them about your symptoms.
3) Your Feces Changes Colors, Too
Not only does your urine change color, but your feces will as well. Since the liver is part of the digestion system, it effects how foods and liquids are absorbed. Your feces will become lighter – to the point of being almost white – which will be extremely noticeable.
This is a major symptom of liver problems. When you see your feces consistently appear to be this color, you need to head to the doctor or emergency room right away for a diagnosis and treatment.
4) You Start to Retain Water
Since the liver is responsible for filtering the blood, among other things, when something goes wrong with it, you’ll begin to retain water. Your abdomen and legs may begin to swell with fluid. Not only will you notice the change in size and shape, but if you want to make sure that it’s fluid and not anything else, just press on that area of your body.
An indentation will form that will go away slowly. Since this can a sign of even more dangerous conditions, such as congestive heart failure, when this happens, make sure to see a doctor immediately. You don’t want to wait!
5) You Begin to Turn Yellow
If you’ve ever heard of jaundice, then you know that this is a major sign of liver damage. When your liver stops functioning properly, bilirubin, which is normally filtered out by this organ, begins to back up in your system. As a result, your skin and the whites of your eyes will start to turn yellow.
This might start out in a more subtle fashion that’s hard to discern, although when it gets worse, you’ll definitely notice that something is wrong.
6) Your Skin Gets Itchy
Itchy skin is another symptom of liver damage. If you begin itching like crazy and don’t have a rash or any physical injuries, then the problem could be with your liver. Since this organ handles so many different functions, it makes sense that one small issue could make your system go haywire and you could end up with itchy skin.
However, you do need to keep in mind that itchy skin can be a sign of several other problems as well, including with your thyroid.
7) You Don’t Have Any Symptoms At All
One of the scarier things is that some people never show any signs of liver damage. They find out that they have a problem when they get a blood test or end up in the hospital with abdominal pain. The liver does so many different things that it may end up functioning just enough to hide any of these symptoms.
By the time that you realize that you have liver damage, it might be too late to reverse it – although you do need to remember that the liver can regenerate itself, so all hope is not lost.
This article is a work of John Wells in support of Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok.