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Signs and Symptoms of Liver Damage

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/25/2010

There are several liver damage signs and symptoms which can be observed in a patient with liver problems. These range from non-specific symptoms such as fatigue and weight loss, to clear indications of liver problem like jaundice and ascitis.

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    About the Liver

    The liver plays a key role in eliminating waste from the body. Other functions of the liver include production of bile which aids in food digestion, production of certain clotting factors, and drug metabolism, among many others. Several factors can lead to liver damage, such as infection in the liver, intake of drugs and alcohol, and autoimmune disease. Damage to the liver may not always be apparent during the early stages. But as the disease progresses, different signs and symptoms appear which can indicate that something might be wrong with the liver.

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    Early Signs and Symptoms

    The initial symptoms of liver damage usually manifest as body fatigue, loss of energy and weakness. These may be accompanied by lack of appetite, nausea and weight loss. These are non-specific liver damage signs and symptoms which can occur with other diseases such as viral or bacterial infections, and other health conditions.

    Pain in the right upper part of the abdomen may also manifest.

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    Jaundice

    Since the liver is where bile production takes place, damage to the liver can cause this substance to accumulate in the body. This often results in the leakage of bile into the bloodstream leading to the yellow discoloration seen in the face, the skin and the conjunctiva, or the white part of the eyes of the patient. Jaundice is usually the most common indication that a problem with the liver is present. The deposition of bile in the skin, also frequently causes itchiness or pruritus.

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    Changes in Stool And Urine Color

    With the absence of bile in the stool, the stool of patients with liver damage may appear lighter than normal. Changes in bowel movement may also be observed. The color of urine also becomes darker.

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    Ascitis and Easy Bruising

    As liver damage progresses, body fluids tend to accumulate in the abdomen causing ascitis. This is frequently due to inadequate production of protein from the liver. The liver also produces certain clotting factors, and when it fails to function due to liver damage, easy bruising and bleeding can occur. When medical intervention is not given at this stage, it can cause serious and severe problems, such as blood in vomit, blood in stool and nose bleeding.

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    Risk Factors for Liver Damage

    People should be aware of the different factors that increases their risk for liver damage. These include having blood transfusion prior to 1992, heavy intake of alcohol, exposure to certain drugs, supplements and herbs, sharing needles, practice of unprotected sex, contact with infected body fluids, work involving chemicals, and presence of tattoos and body piercings. It is often recommended to seek medical consultation when these different liver damage signs and symptoms, especially the early ones, are observed in a family member or in oneself for early management of the condition.

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    References

    Mayo Clinic: Liver Problems

    MedicineNet.com: Liver Disease (Hepatic Disease)