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 your blood.

Symptoms of liver disease can vary depending on the underlying cause - this can range from genetics to an infection. Let’s learn more about the common symptoms of liver disease and how you can test your liver health.



Symptoms Of Liver Disease


There are several causes of liver disease - each of which has an effect on the signs and symptoms associated with it.

When you do begin to experience symptoms, it may mean that your liver is already damaged and scarred and it’s important to make a visit to your doctor. Though, by staying aware of the signs and symptoms of liver disease, in addition to regular liver function testing, you can monitor your liver health.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of liver disease:

  • 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 the colour of 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].


How Can I Test My Liver Health?


Can you detect liver problems?

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 getting tested 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

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