As one of the most hard-working organs in your body, your liver is an essential part of the digestive system; its functions include digesting food, fighting infections, and cleaning and removing toxins from your blood.

Symptoms of liver disease can vary depending on the underlying cause - this can range from genetics to an infection, some of the most common indicators include:

  • Yellowish eyes or skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stool colour

See also: What Is The Function Of The Liver?


Indicators of liver disease


There are several causes of liver disease - each of which has an effect on the signs and symptoms associated with it. By staying aware of the indicators, in addition to regular liver function testing, you can help ensure that your liver remains healthy and functioning.

See also: What Causes Liver Dysfunction?


Yellowish eyes or skin


Your skin and the whites of your eyes turning yellow may be a sign of liver disease - this occurrence is commonly referred to as jaundice.

Jaundice comes about when a yellow bile pigment named bilirubin builds up in the blood because it’s not being broken down by the liver.


Itchy skin


If you find yourself with an irritating feeling that’s making you want to constantly scratch your skin, you may have pruritus.

Pruritus can occur because of dry skin and commonly occurs in older adults - it’s also known to be a sign of underlying illnesses, including liver disease [1].


Abdominal pain or swelling


A throbbing or aching pain over the lower right side of the ribs could be a result of a buildup of fluid inside the abdomen - this is a common symptom for individuals with scarring on the liver[2].

If you’re experiencing severe abdominal pain it’s important to visit your doctor to be examined.


Dark urine


If you notice that your urine is dark brown in colour, this might be a sign that your liver isn’t in perfect health. This change in colour is due to a build-up of bilirubin (the same pigment that causes jaundice) and is a symptom of liver disease.


Pale stool colour


The colour of your stool is commonly influenced by what you eat throughout the day but, when your stool is a pale colour, it may indicate that there’s an obstruction in your bile duct and therefore an issue with your liver health [3].


See also: How Often Should You Check Your Liver Function?


The most accurate way to detect issues with your liver is to take a blood test - you can do this by visiting your doctor or you can take a test from the comfort of your own home.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home Liver Test looks at the key proteins and enzymes in the liver, which can provide an indication of how your liver is performing.

You should consider taking a test if:

  • You have a family history of liver disease
  • You have a history of gastrointestinal disease
  • You have gallstones or a family history of such
  • You would often drink in excess
  • You take performance-enhancing drugs
  • You suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa
  • You are taking medications which can harm your liver

See also: How Do You Check Liver Function From Home?



References

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. Itchy skin (pruritus). Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2018.
  2. American Liver Foundation. The Progression of Liver Disease. Online: Liverfoundation.org, 2017.
  3. M. F. Picco. Stool colour: when to worry. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2019