8 Common Signs of Liver Damage
The liver is the largest internal organ, and surprisingly powerful. Not only does it protect all your tissues from damage by filtering out toxins from your bloodstream, but it also can repair its own damaged tissue.
This means that, given the right time and care, liver tissue can be regenerate and your body’s filtration system can continue to function efficiently. However, some liver conditions leave permanent damage, and in these cases, early diagnosis and swift treatment can mean the difference between an uncomfortable (but treatable) illness and a life-threatening emergency.
Like many progressive diseases, you may not notice any symptoms of signs of liver damage or liver disease in the early stages. As scarring continues and liver function begins to decline, you may begin to notice some physical changes in certain areas of your body, as well as more general discomfort from head to toe.
What Causes Liver Damage?
Infection. Parasites and viruses can infect the liver, causing inflammation that reduces liver function. The viruses that cause liver damage can be spread through blood or semen, contaminated food or water, or close contact with a person who is infected. The most common types of liver infection are hepatitis viruses, including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
Immune system abnormality. Diseases in which your immune system attacks certain parts of your body (autoimmune) can affect your liver. Examples of autoimmune liver diseases include autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Additional causes of liver damage:
- Liver cancer, bile duct cancer, and liver adenoma
- Obesity is also associated with liver damage
- Long-term excess alcohol consumption
- Fat accumulating in the liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)
Over time, damage to the liver results in scarring (cirrhosis), which can lead to liver failure, a life-threatening condition.
1. Abdominal Swelling
A swollen abdomen can point to a condition called ascites, where liver malfunction leads to an imbalance of proteins and other compounds, and fluid builds up in the tissues. The main symptom of ascites is a pronounced potbelly and often signals cirrhosis. Sometimes swelling occurs in the hands, feet, and ankles, as gravity draws the excess fluid down to the extremities.