Liver disease in one sense is a lot like cancer – if you are alerted to the early warning signs and seek medical treatment as soon as possible, you chances of surviving the disease are much greater. That is why educating yourself on signs to watch out for is so incredibly important when It comes to liver disease. Your liver is incredibly important: it detoxifies the body, stores iron and glucose, produces bile to help your digestive system break down food and is necessary for many vital hormones.
Without a functioning liver, good health simply is not possible. And many things can cause liver problems, including alcohol abuse, obstruction of the bile duct, decreased circulation to the liver and toxic build-up. Below, then, are warning signs of liver disease that you definitely need to know about.
Frequent Early Symptoms of Liver Disease
Early symptoms which should be reported to the doctor in order to detect the onset of liver disease include the following:
- Bad breath or body odor, due to build-up of urea
- Pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen (where the liver is located)
- Black circles under the eyes
- Discolored stools (the liver eliminates old red blood cells which are expelled as brown feces; discolored feces are a symptom that the liver is not performing this function properly)
- Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin or white of the eyes caused by a build-up of bilirubinCoated tongue, which could indicate a toxic build-up if liver is not functioning adequately
Frequent Symptoms of Cirrhosis (Advanced Liver Disease)
As liver disease becomes advanced and the liver becomes scarred and unable to repair itself, this condition is called cirrhosis. Common stages of cirrhosis include:
- Easily-bruised skin, due to the fact that the liver is not able to producing clotting factors for blood
- Itchy skin: skin is itchy because bile salts can be deposited on the skin and can cause irritation
- Sexual dysfunctions: an impaired liver can upset the balance of sex hormones in the body and lead to such problems as enlargement of male breasts, low libido and erectile dysfunction
- Confusion: this is called by the build-up of ammonia in the blood stream, which can interfere with mental functions
- Decreased muscles: because the liver also is important for the production of proteins, a compromised liver can reduce this protection and lead to wasting of the muscle While there are possible avenues of treatment for early liver disease, once the liver has become scarred and cirrhotic as the disease advances, no cure is possible and liver disease is responsible for about 25,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. So if you suspect that you might be having liver problems, get into your doctor as soon as possible for early diagnosis and treatment, which greatly increases your chance of survival.
If you have experienced or are experiencing any of these symptoms, go into your doctor to discuss your questions and concerns. Your doctor can perform an exam right there at the clinic and based on that and your reported symptoms, may well order follow-up tests. Remember, the earlier you begin treatment for this disease, the better your chances are of surviving it.