The signs from a damaged liver are not shouts. Signs of structural failure in this toxin-removing organ are often only whispers and can be hard to detect and diagnose.
As we continue with our month of Liver Disease Awareness, let’s take a look at some of the subtle signs that might clue you into realizing you have a very unhappy, poorly functioning liver. In one of our recent blogs, we reviewed the anatomy of the liver, and its varied functions. also too described all the tasks your liver accomplishes when it is healthy. In a healthy state, it is a built in, ultra-efficient toxin remover.
Signs of Liver Failure Never Come Early: The Hepatitis C Connection
Later in this blog, we will list some signs of liver failure, but first the doctors and
healthcare professionals at DDC Orlando remind you about some of the roles your liver plays:
- It acts as a blood filter.
- Likewise the liver creates hormones.
- Few people realize it stores energy.
- And it makes special compounds for the digestion of your food.
This might be a good time to read and review that previous blog before you continue.
Many people have liver problems for years without showing any signs or symptoms. Indeed, perhaps you might enjoy 20-30 years of quiet before signs begin. This is why Hepatitis C, a common cause of liver failure, is called the Silent Epidemic.
Signs of Liver Disease Might Come to Two Main Types of Patients:
On the one hand, you might know you were previously diagnosed with Hepatitis C, but time went on and you became complacent about it, ignored it. Meanwhile the liver is functioning less and less well.
On the other hand, you might also be one of the millions who has never known they had Hepatitis C. They don’t realize it has remained dormant in the blood in spite of lifestyle changes. “Hepatitis C used to be regularly screened for in drug users, HIV-positive patients, and anyone who had a blood transfusion before 1992. And since the 1990s, hep-C rates have decreased by 90%. So why the sudden uptick in the boomer demographic?”
Since that major decrease, paper author Ryan L. Nave believes many of the infected boomers used to be high-risk and have since changed their behavior—but never got tested.”
The liver does not complain with sharp signals of pain or give you a big spasm of significant, scream-worthy complaint. And when you do begin to have signs of liver disease problems, then it might be too late to save your quality of life, your liver, or life itself.
Bruce Bacon, MD, a professor of internal medicine and chair of gastroenterology at the St. Louis University School of Medicine, states that “By the time you’re showing signs or symptoms of liver problems—whether due to hepatitis, fatty liver disease, or something else—chances are good that cirrhosis has already set in.”
See more information on how Hepatitis C is fast becoming a public health concern at this reliable source. We call Hepatitis C the Headquarters of Cirrhosis, as well as other significant liver diseases.
Signs from the Headquarters of Cirrhosis, Hepatitis C
Basically, the DDC specialists want you to know that “Cirrhosis” causes liver deterioration. It is often caused by a long-standing disease, such as Hepatitis C, or an injury. Likewise, in the words of Jamila Wakim-Fleming, MD, ‘think of cirrhosis as arthritis of your liver; once it settles in, you’re in trouble. Patients with liver cirrhosis are at significant risk for liver cancer and may eventually require a transplant…”
Signs of a Fatty Liver from a Fatty Diet
Dr. Bacon warns of another disease of the liver, equally subtle and long-lived. It is termed “Fatty liver disease.” Dr. Bacon cautions us, “It often goes hand in hand with obesity and it is the most common cause of liver issues.” Bacon adds, “Some estimates suggest up to 25 million people have fatty liver disease. Excessive drinking and Hepatitis are other two of the most well-known causes of any type of liver problem. Patients often go undiagnosed because of the stigma of certain life-styles, about which we blogged in our previous article.
How to Have a Healthy Liver: So Easy To Say!
We can make this sound so easy, but DDC Orlando physicians and healthcare specialists know it is not always simple to keep
a healthy schedule. A liver will give you decades of devoted service if you give it decades of healthy lifestyle.
Drink alcohol only in moderation.
Stick to a healthy diet.
Get plenty of physical exercise.
Such a life schedule is your first line of defense against problems with your liver, according to Dr. Wakim-Fleming. Another aspect of liver protection is getting regular check-ups so your doctor can see developing problems within the liver through blood tests. These tests reveal blood markers which will be red flags concerning liver function.
Additionally, Dr. Bacon also recommends regular checkups with your doctor, which can allow him or her to spot blood markers of unrecognized or impending liver issues. If you are over 50 years old, make sure you obtain a special one-time blood test for Hepatitis C:
“Luckily, all it takes is a simple blood test to diagnose, and should your test come back positive, you can be effectively treated before the virus becomes life-threatening. In fact, if you were born between 1945 and 1965, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends a one-time test for hepatitis C.”
Signs Sent from the Headquarters of the Silent Epidemic: Finally, Hepatitis Brings the Pain
Signs that Hepatitis has seriously compromised your liver might include these significant discomforts:
That Big Ache- If the “right upper quadrant” of your abdomen becomes swollen and deeply aches, it could be a sign your liver is in trouble. (Again, the experts at DDC Orlando highly recommend that you get your blood tests.
Signs in Those Haunting Eyes
Almost everyone knows that yellow eyes or yellowed skin are indication of serious liver problems. But do you know why this might happen? It goes back to one of the meticulous functions of that hard-working liver. Dr. Wakim-Fleming explains it this way:
“When your body breaks down old blood cells, one of the byproducts created is a yellowish compound called bilirubin. While a healthy liver has no problem disposing of bilirubin, a diseased liver allows bilirubin to build up in your blood, which can turn your skin and eyes yellow.” This is jaundice.” Likewise, jaundice can cause “Dark urine and light feces.”
More Signs from Liver Failure: Painful Joints and Other Symptoms
“Patients will often experience joint pain similar to arthritis as well as fatigue and loss of appetite. Patients who have nausea and vomiting as well might complain about their stomach, but these symptoms are often signals of autoimmune hepatitis. In this case, your immune system powers up and makes a big mistake. It attacks the tissues of the liver.
Signs Written on the Skin: Ugly Skin spots
When the liver cannot perform cleaning duties on your blood, sometimes you will notice little
clotting issues that are on the surface of your skin. The large skin blemishes, called “spider angiomas,” look like spiders or asterisks. They often manifest on the chest and torso of the chest.
Late Stage Liver Signs: Confusion — The Shock and Awe of Liver Trouble
Copper can build up in the brain when the liver cannot perform adequately. This copper poisoning will give a patient an almost Alzheimer’s quality of confusion.
Remember, mental confusion is one of the more advanced-stage signs of liver disease, so it often accompanies one of the signs mentioned in this list.
The Ugly Face and Physique of the Final Stages: Muscle Waste
As the liver disease progresses, you might experience a swollen belly and ankles that are out of proportion to your skinny
arms and weak legs. Even the muscles of you face can change your appearance. Sunken areas of gray might dent your cheeks and temples from the fluid imbalances of a severely diseased liver.
These are some of the last signs sent by a liver in critically advanced stages of disease. These symptoms do not just suddenly happen; they are progressive.
A Message for You and Your Liver– from the Digestive Disease Consultants, Orlando:
It is common knowledge that the highest risk of Hepatitis C comes with drug injections, often shared needles and drug addiction.
It is also common knowledge that liver diseases often result from a life saturated with alcoholism. These are only two of the reasons liver problems often carry a social stigma.
Once again, the Digestive Disease Consultants, Orlando, call your attention to the fact we support our patients with compassion, comfort and confidentiality.
There’s no judgement here. We don’t see diseases as good and bad, just disease. Don’t let fear of social criticism deprive you of treatment that could save your liver and your life.