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 themand making sure toxic substances are flushed out before they cause any harm, according to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. But when your liver is in trouble and not functioning properly, there are a handful of ways it tries to tell you that something is wrong. Because it is so crucial that you don't ignore these hints, however subtle they may be, and maintain your health during these unprecedented times, here are 20 liver warning signs you should be on the lookout for.
RELATED: If You Notice This on Your Skin, Get Your Liver Checked, Says Mayo Clinic.
You have little to no appetite.
You used to chow down like you were in a food competition, and now you're never hungry. So what gives? According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most common signs of liver damage is a loss of appetite, making your non-existent hunger pangs something to be wary of.
RELATED: If You Notice This on Your Hands, Get Your Liver Checked, Mayo Clinic Says.
Your sleep patterns are inconsistent.
There are many things that can disturb your sleep pattern, but a 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.
Your memory isn't at its sharpest.
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, the organ can't properly remove toxins from the blood, and that can result in them building up in the brain—AKA hepatic encephalopathy, Healthline reports.Unfortunately, one of the results of that is memory loss.
You're tired all the time.
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 study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, could occur due to changes in neurotransmission within the brain.
Your skin itches.
Primary biliary cholangitis—which the Mayo Clinic says is 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, the Cleveland Clinic says.
You notice yellowing of your eyes or skin.
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 and it's due to a high level of bilirubin in the body, which is a yellowish pigment that's secreted by the liver, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If you do notice the discoloration, it could be from many different signs of liver damage, from cirrhosis to hepatitis B.
You experience sudden weight gain.
If you're suddenly gaining weight out of nowhere, your liver might be to blame. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 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.
RELATED: Drinking This 3 Times a Day Slashes Your Risk of Liver Disease, Study Says.
Or you unexpectedly lose 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—according to the Mayo Clinic, it's also a red flag for hepatitis C, a viral infection that leads to the inflammation of the liver.
Your palms turn 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, according to the Mayo Clinic, involves too much fat being stored in liver cells that affects people who barely drink—or totally avoid!—alcohol.
Your breasts become enlarged.
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.
You notice changes in your personality.
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, according to Healthline.
You bruise 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, it might be one of the signs of liver damage. Liver disease can also make it a more frequent occurrence, the Mayo Clinic says.
You experience swelling of your legs or ankles.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 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 puffiness and aren't sure why, a visit to your doc might be in order to make sure it's not something serious.
You are easily 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.
Or have trouble focusing.
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, the American Liver Foundation says.
RELATED: 20 Ways You Didn't Realize You're Ruining Your Heart.
You have more aches and pains than usual.
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, the Mayo Clinic says.
You feel 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.
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Your urine is a darker color than usual.
Seeing dark urine in the toilet after going to the bathroom can be a total shocker—and it's also one of the tell-tale signs of liver damage, the Mayo Clinic says. While bilirubin is responsible for the yellowing of the eyes or skin, it can also change the color of your urine, says Johns Hopkins Medicine.
You regularly get the chills.
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 the experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine say occurs when the organ's flow of bile is reduced or has stopped completely.
Your eyes or mouth are dry.
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, the Mayo Clinic says, but luckily it's an early symptom of the chronic disease.
RELATED: If You Notice This on Your Face, Have Your Kidneys Checked.
- Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain and swelling.
- Swelling in the legs and ankles.
- Itchy skin.
- Dark urine color.
- Pale stool color.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Yellowing of your skin and eyeballs (jaundice)
- Pain in your upper right abdomen.
- A swollen belly (ascites)
- A general sense of feeling unwell (malaise)
- Disorientation or confusion.
Pain in your liver itself can feel like a dull throbbing pain or a stabbing sensation in your right upper abdomen just under your ribs. General abdominal pain and discomfort can also be related to swelling from fluid retention and enlargement of your spleen and liver caused by cirrhosis.What does liver damage skin look like? ›
Jaundice, spider nevi, leuconychia and finger clubbing are well known features (Figures 1 a, b and Figure 2). Palmar erythema, “paper-money” skin (Figure 3), rosacea and rhinophyma are common but often overlooked by the busy practitioner. More subtle signs include scratch marks, loss of axillary hair and gynaecomastia.What part of the body itches with liver problems? ›
Symptoms of itching with liver disease
Itching associated with liver disease tends to be worse in the late evening and during the night. Some people may itch in one area, such as a limb, the soles of their feet, or the palms of their hands, while others experience an all-over itch.
Stage 1: Inflammation
In the early stages of liver disease, the liver will become swollen or inflamed as the body's natural response to injury. Liver inflammation, or hepatitis, can also occur when there are more toxins in the blood than the liver is able to manage.
- Abdominal swelling (ascites)
- Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin's surface.
- Enlarged spleen.
- Red palms.
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Acute liver failure can happen in as little as 48 hours. It's important to seek medical treatment at the first signs of trouble. These signs may include fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and discomfort in your right side, just below your ribs.What drugs can cause liver damage? ›
- Anabolic steroids.
- Birth control pills.
- Halothane (a type of anesthesia)
In some severe cases, you might notice a feeling of bloating or fullness in your belly, or an ache in your upper right abdomen, where your liver is. It's more likely your healthcare provider will discover it during an exam. They might notice that your liver is palpable to the touch, which it normally wouldn't be.
Many skin conditions – from acne to eczema to psoriasis – can be linked to poor liver function. A tired, overworked liver can lead to dry, itchy skin, acne, and a dull complexion.What happens to your legs when you have liver problems? ›
Cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood through the liver, thus increasing pressure in the vein that brings blood to the liver from the intestines and spleen. Swelling in the legs and abdomen. The increased pressure in the portal vein can cause fluid to accumulate in the legs (edema) and in the abdomen (ascites).Where does it hurt when your liver is damaged? ›
Depending on the cause, a liver that hurts may show up as pain in the front center of your belly, in your back, or even your shoulders. Your liver doesn't actually have any pain receptors. Usually, the pain happens because the membrane that surrounds it is inflamed from an illness or injury.Do you feel sick with liver damage? ›
Signs and symptoms
However, as your liver loses its ability to function properly, you're likely to experience a loss of appetite, nausea and itchy skin. In the later stages, symptoms can include jaundice, vomiting blood, dark, tarry-looking stools, and a build-up of fluid in the legs (oedema) and abdomen (ascites).
People may have a reddish purple rash of tiny dots or larger splotches, caused by bleeding from small blood vessels in the skin. If the liver function has been impaired for a long time, people may itch all over, and small yellow bumps of fat can be deposited in the skin or eyelids.Can liver issues cause hair loss? ›
Symptoms of cirrhosis include coughing up blood, hair loss and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes).
The commonest symptom in patients with liver disease is pruritus which is often protracted and disabling. Other common features include spider angiomas, palmar erythema, paper money skin, xanthelasmas, pigmentary changes, and nutritional deficiencies.What were your first cirrhosis symptoms? ›
The main symptoms of cirrhosis include: tiredness and weakness. feeling sick (nausea) and loss of appetite resulting in weight loss. red patches on your palms and small, spider-like blood vessels on your skin (spider angiomas) above waist level.Does liver disease cause weight gain? ›
Overburdened Liver Slows Down Metabolism
When the liver is overburdened and consequently unable to metabolise nutrients and fats properly it slows down metabolism leading to more serious health issues as well as weight gain and lethargy.
The most common cause of itching on the back is simple dry skin, which is why the condition is always worse in the wintertime, when the humidity plummets and skin is overall much dryer. The amount of lipids (oils) in our skin diminishes as we age, so we tend to get itchier as we get older.
Although the overall leading cause of death in patients with cirrhosis is liver-related, the most common causes of mortality in patients with NAFLD cirrhosis is non-hepatic malignancy, cerebrovascular disease, and diabetes.How long do people live with a damaged liver? ›
Patients with compensated cirrhosis have a median survival that may extend beyond 12 years. Patients with decompensated cirrhosis have a worse prognosis than do those with compensated cirrhosis; the average survival without transplantation is approximately two years [13,14].What are the last stages of liver failure before death? ›
Other symptoms of end-stage liver disease include:
- muscle cramps;
- trouble sleeping at night;
- fatigue ;
- decreased appetite and intake of food; and.
- depression .
- Only drink filtered water. ...
- Avoid excessive sugar consumption. ...
- Don't eat if you're not hungry.
- Stop the obsession with calorie counting. ...
- Stay away from foods you know are (or think you may be) allergic to.
- Adopt good intestinal hygiene.
Reducing or eliminating all animal protein, alcohol, sugar, wheat, corn, soy, tobacco, processed foods, caffeine, and nuts will give your liver a much-needed break to do some long-overdue house cleaning. Give the digestive system some helpers.What flushes the liver naturally? ›
Garlic: Garlic contains selenium, a mineral that helps to detoxify the liver. It also has the ability to activate liver enzymes that can help your body naturally flush out toxins. Citrus Fruits: Fruits like grapefruit, oranges, limes and lemons all boost the liver's cleansing ability.Does a fatty liver make your stomach bigger? ›
We conclude that fat infiltration of the liver is well correlated with amount of abdominal fat. Fatty liver tends to be more strongly associated with VF compared to SF. In other words, if a non-obese patient exhibits fatty liver, the patient may in fact have visceral obesity.What hurts when you have a fatty liver? ›
People with fatty liver disease often have no symptoms until the disease progresses to cirrhosis of the liver. If you do have symptoms, they may include: Abdominal pain or a feeling of fullness in the upper right side of the abdomen (belly). Nausea, loss of appetite or weight loss.How long can you live with a fatty liver? ›
You may live the rest of your natural life without having any complications from it. It becomes more complicated for a small percentage of people when it turns to steatohepatitis (NASH), and especially when NASH progresses to cirrhosis. Research suggests that NAFLD overall may lower life expectancy by four years.Does liver disease affect bowel movements? ›
GI SYMPTOMS IN PATIENTS WITH LIVER CIRRHOSIS
The most common GI symptoms reported include abdominal bloating in 49.5% of patients, abdominal pain in 24%, belching in 18.7%, diarrhea in 13.3%, and constipation in 8%.
For example, blood tests for transaminases are often used to monitor liver inflammation. If the numbers go down, that's a good sign. Also, blood tests of clotting function, such as the PT/INR, can be used to assess if the liver is producing proteins appropriately.What is the most commonly abused drug that leads to liver failure? ›
Acetaminophen. Taking acetaminophen in excess is the leading cause of drug-induced liver injury.What vitamins are hard on your liver? ›
Avoid certain supplements: Excess iron, niacin, and vitamin A (the retinol form, not beta carotene) tend to stress an unhealthy liver. Check your multi and B-complex for these ingredients.What is hard on the liver? ›
Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup causes a fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease. Some studies show that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you're not overweight. It's one more reason to limit foods with added sugars, such as soda, pastries, and candy.What happens when your liver enzymes are high? ›
Elevated liver enzymes often indicate inflammation or damage to cells in the liver. Inflamed or injured liver cells leak higher than normal amounts of certain chemicals, including liver enzymes, into the bloodstream, elevating liver enzymes on blood tests.Can liver damage affect your eyes? ›
As the liver becomes more severely damaged, more obvious and serious symptoms can develop, such as: yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)Does liver disease affect your hands? ›
Chronic liver disease is frequently associated with a hyperdynamic circulation, with warm hands and capillary pulsations. In our experience, however, a significant number of patients with alcoholic liver disease complain of cold hands.What skin color indicates a liver disorder? ›
Jaundice is a yellow color of the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes. The yellow coloring comes from bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells. Jaundice can be a symptom of several health problems.How do you feel when your liver is failing? ›
Acute liver failure can develop quickly in an otherwise healthy person, and it is life-threatening. If you or someone you know suddenly develops a yellowing of the eyes or skin; tenderness in the upper abdomen; or any unusual changes in mental state, personality or behavior, seek medical attention right away.How can you check if your liver is OK? ›
Blood tests used to assess the liver are known as liver function tests. But liver function tests can be normal at many stages of liver disease. Blood tests can also detect if you have low levels of certain substances, such as a protein called serum albumin, which is made by the liver.
A group of blood tests called liver function tests can be used to diagnose liver disease. Other blood tests can be done to look for specific liver problems or genetic conditions. Imaging tests. An ultrasound, CT scan and MRI can show liver damage.What blood tests show liver problems? ›
- Alanine transaminase (ALT). ...
- Aspartate transaminase (AST). ...
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). ...
- Albumin and total protein. ...
- Bilirubin. ...
- Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). ...
- L-lactate dehydrogenase (LD). ...
- Prothrombin time (PT).
Options can include:
- Weight loss surgery.
- Weight loss medication.
Bilirubin in urine can be an early sign of liver damage. It may even show up before you have symptoms. So, your provider may order a bilirubin in urine test if you have a high risk for liver damage or disease because of: A family history of liver disease.What happens to your liver when you stop drinking for a month? ›
Because the liver is a tolerant organ, he said positive changes can occur within weeks of going dry. Kumar added that in the absence of alcohol, “the liver can focus on its other jobs, such as breaking down other toxins produced by the body, metabolizing fats and excess hormones that need to be broken down.”How do I detox my liver ASAP? ›
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Eat a well-balanced diet every day. That's five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables, along with fiber from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Be sure to include protein for the enzymes that help your body detox naturally.What is the fastest way to detox your liver? ›
Reducing or eliminating all animal protein, alcohol, sugar, wheat, corn, soy, tobacco, processed foods, caffeine, and nuts will give your liver a much-needed break to do some long-overdue house cleaning.Which fruit is best for liver? ›
Fill your fruit basket with apples, grapes and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, which are proven to be liver-friendly fruits. Consume grapes as it is, in the form of a grape juice or supplement your diet with grape seed extracts to increase antioxidant levels in your body and protect your liver from toxins.