Because many Americans must pay extraordinary prices to see a physician, vague symptoms that could indicate liver disease often go ignored.
A staggering number of people have some form of liver disease – many of whom have no idea they are affected!
Unfortunately, liver disease that is not diagnosed and addressed can have serious – or even fatal consequences. Liver disease rarely exhibits obvious symptoms until the illness has progressed to a serious stage. Thus, being alerted to any signs your liver might be struggling can prompt a physician screening (regardless of the financial consequences) and guide you towards taking better care of this precious organ.
Liver Cell Damage
Experts believe that an estimated 10 to 30 percent of Americans have one of over 100 types of liver disease. A majority of these individuals have yet to realize their liver is in danger. After incurring damage to its cells, the liver has a remarkable ability to regenerate new cells. This recovery only happens when normal cell injuries occur; pathology in the liver typically causes the rate of liver cell damage to outpace the rate of liver cell regeneration.
Over time, unrepaired liver cell damage can lead to irreversible scarring (cirrhosis), which primes the organ for liver cancer or liver failure. On the other hand, increasing liver disease awareness – including cognizance of a vague collection of symptoms – will improve liver disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
Liver disease can be genetic or be caused by a variety of other factors that damages the liver, such as:
- A virus like Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C
- Alcohol use
- Fatty liver
- Toxin exposure
- Blockage of the liver’s bile ducts
6 Common Signs of Liver Disease
Although seemingly vague, the six most common indications of liver disease include:
- Strange Colored Elimination – Pale, bloody or tar-colored stool and/or dark colored urine.
- Fatigue and General Malaise
- Nausea and Low Appetite
- Liver Area Pain (upper right hand side of the abdomen) – likely caused by inflammation in the liver.
- Fluid Retention and Swelling of the Abdomen and/or Leg and Ankle Swelling – This is due to ascites, which occurs as a result of poor kidney function in cirrhosis (advanced liver disease). A decline in kidney function leads to the retention of sodium and water.
- Yellowish Color to the Skin and Eyes (jaundice) – This is caused by a damaged liver being unable to process bilirubin, the waste product that occurs when old red blood cells are broken down.
10 Not-So-Common Signs of Liver Disease
Typically developing once liver disease has progressed, 10 not-so-common indications of liver disease include:
- Foul Breath and/or Body Smell
- Developing New Allergies
- Itchy Skin – This may be caused by a chemical in bile that accumulates in the bloodstream when the liver is damaged.
- Developing Spider Angiomas – Small, spider-like capillaries that are visible just underneath the surface of the skin.
- Gynecomastia – Enlarged male breasts. A damaged liver may fail to regulate the production and breakdown of hormones.
- Shrunken Testicles or Erectile Dysfunction – A damaged liver may fail to regulate the production and breakdown of hormones.
- Dark Circles Under the Eyes and/or Blemishes on the Skin
- Confusion or Short-Term Memory Loss – As toxins accumulate in the brain because the liver can no longer effectively eliminate them, brain activity is hampered.
- Vomiting Blood – Scarring of the liver prevents proper blood flow through the organ, increasing the likelihood of pressure building up in the stomach and esophageal veins. If these veins burst, it can lead to vomiting up blood. This is a medical emergency!
- Bruising Easily – Liver damage can prevent production of the proteins required for blood clotting, which causes an increased tendency to bruise or bleed.
The earlier liver disease is diagnosed, the easier it is to reverse it, cure it or prevent its progression. Regrettably, America’s health insurance reform policies have drastically reduced physician consultations that would detect liver disease. Only a select few pay a reasonable monthly fee and have the luxury of covered visits. Instead, high premiums, high co-pays, high co-insurance and high deductibles are the norm and prohibit the average American from seeking anything but emergency healthcare.
Realizing that your cluster of common or not-so-common symptoms could foretell of liver disease will help people prioritize their liver’s health – and get screened for liver disease to stop a liver-related emergency from ever coming to fruition.
http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/knowing-symptoms-of-liver-disease-save-life.html, Knowing the Symptoms of Liver Disease Could Save Your Life, Retrieved May 24, 2015, Healthy-Holisitic-Living.com, 2015.
http://www.liverfoundation.org/education/liverlowdown/ll1013/bigpicture/, Liver Disease: The Big Picture, Retrieved May 24, 2015, American Liver Foundation, 2015.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/basics/symptoms/con-20025300, Liver Disease, Retrieved May 24, 2015, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2015.
http://www.news-medical.net/health/Liver-disease-symptoms.aspx,Liver Disease Symptoms, Sally Robertson, MSc, Retrieved May 24, 2015, News-Medical-net, 2015.