Your liver controls vital functions that keep your body healthy and working normally. Most of the time, you are not even aware of the hard work that this amazing organ is doing but when things go wrong it is important that you can spot the early signs of liver problems.
Signs you may have a liver problem
1. Feeling nauseous
We all feel nauseous from time to time and there are plenty of causes of nausea that have nothing to do with our livers! However, if you have been feeling sick and dizzy or if you have been vomiting for an extended period of time and there is no other obvious reason then you can get this checked by your doctor.
2. Upper abdominal pain
If your liver is inflamed or diseased then you may get pain in the region of the body where your liver is located. This is your upper abdomen and is the region just below your rib cage. If you have a burning sensation in this area and a fever then it could be biliary cramp or inflammation and you should consult a doctor.
When there are excessive quantities of bilirubin (bile) circulating in the blood stream and body tissues it can make your skin and the whites of your eyes look yellow. The medical term for this is jaundice. It is especially common in liver infections and should always be checked by a doctor.
4. Feeling tired and weak
This is one of the more difficult signs because we all feel tired and weak from time to time. Sometimes we can identify a rational explanation for it and soon feel better. However, you should make time to see your doctor if you are habitually feeling tired and weak and you don’t know why.
5. Feeling feverish
Any sort of inflammation or infection in the body can cause a fever – it is the body’s natural reaction. If you have pain around your liver at the same time as your fever this may indicate that the infection or inflammation is in your liver.
6. Changes in stool colour
If you notice that your stools have changed in colour – if they have become lighter, this could be an indication of liver problems. Irritable bowel syndrome may also be present.
The liver removes toxins from our blood so when it is not working properly these toxins remain in the bloodstream and some are located around the skin. This can cause itching in many parts of the body and become very annoying and uncomfortable.
8. Bruises and signs of bleeding
The liver plays a role in clotting the blood when we damage our capillaries, veins and arteries. If the blood is not clotting properly we may have bleeding from our noses or we may notice that we are bruising very easily or are developing very large bruises. This can be a sign of liver problems.
All of the above symptoms are very common and in many cases they will be caused by perfectly normal ailments. However, sometimes they can be the sign of liver disease and this can only be ascertained by a doctor who can perform the appropriate diagnostic tests.
Take care of your liver
There is plenty that you can do yourself to look after your liver and prevent it from becoming diseased. Here are a few suggestions:
- Stick to a healthy diet. Fresh fruit and vegetables (your 5 a day) will help support your liver function. Foods like apples, kiwi, cherries and grapes are especially helpful as are spinach, artichoke and asparagus. eat them raw wherever possible – they taste great and are doing your liver good.
- Try to control the amount of protein and carbohydrates in your diet – balance these with other foods. Keep your intake of fried, convenience foods to a minimum.
- Alcohol is processed in your liver so give this vital organ a break by limiting the amount of alcohol you consume. Have some alcohol free days.
- Limit the amounts of processed sugar in your diet – eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks instead.
- Be mindful of the amount of medication that you are taking. Many drugs are processed in the liver.