Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of liver disease can save your life. Liver disease, if spotted early enough, can be slowed down and cured (providing the causes have been identified and are avoided in future). Eventually, your liver can fully recover by growing new healthy tissue to replace any that has been damaged, just as long as the disease has not been allowed to progress too far.
An Organ and a Gland
Your liver is the largest internal organ (and also the largest internal gland) that you have in your body. In a healthy adult, a normal liver will weigh somewhere between 3 to 3.5 pounds and it plays a crucial role in multiple key bodily functions.
The Functions of the Liver
The key functions of the liver are to detoxify your blood and to enhance your digestive system by creating bile, which helps to break down the fats that you consume into small pieces, making them easier for your small intestine to absorb. But that’s not all. Here is a quick summary of what your liver does for you:
It detoxifies your blood, filtering out any harmful and unwanted substances like drugs and alcohol
It produces bile to aid digestion
It stores some of your body’s vitamins and iron
It stores glucose
It converts glucose into sugar that the body can use when the body’s sugar levels become depleted
It processes haemoglobin, insulin, and a variety of other hormones
It converts ammonia into urea; an essential ingredient for healthy metabolism
It eliminates old red blood cells, which produces faecal matter which is normally brown in color. This is why when your stool is discolored (i.e. not brown) it can be an indication there is something wrong with your liver function.
You simply can’t live without it, that’s why it’s so important to be able to detect and interpret the early symptoms of liver disease.
Liver disease is also sometimes referred to as hepatic disease. When any type of hepatic disease affects up to three quarters of your liver tissue, your liver function is compromised.
The Causes of Liver Disease
Liver disease can be brought about in a number of different ways.
Its cells may be inflamed, as with hepatitis
The passage of bile may become obstructed, as in cholestasis
A build-up of cholesterol may occur
The flow of blood to the liver can be damaged
The tissue of the liver may be attacked and damaged by toxins
Alcohol Abuse and Cirrhosis of the Liver
The most common cause of liver disease in North America is alcohol abuse. The final stage of liver disease, known as cirrhosis of the liver, is responsible for approximately 25,000 annual deaths in North America.
Symptoms of Liver Disease
The most frequent and common symptoms of liver disease include:
Black circles beneath the eyes
Bad body odor
Brown blemishes on the skin
Flushed facial appearance
Inflamed palms and soles of feet
Jaundice-the yellowing of the skin which can often also be evidenced in the whites of the eyes
Pain – which is felt in the uppermost right hand quadrant of the abdomen
Increased tendency to perspire excessively
Some people also suffer from fatigue and weight loss.