Your liver is the largest internal organ (and also the largest internal gland) that you have in your body. In a healthy adult, a normal liver will weigh somewhere between 3-3.5 pounds and it plays a crucial role in multiple key bodily functions.
The key functions of the liver are to detoxify your blood and to enhance your digestive system by creating bile, which helps to break down the fats that you consume into small pieces, making them easier for your small intestine to absorb.
But that’s not all. Here is a quick summary of what else your liver does for you:
- It stores some of your body’s vitamins and iron
- It stores glucose
- It converts glucose into sugar that the body can use when the body’s sugar levels become depleted
- It processes hemoglobin, insulin, and a variety of other hormones
- It converts ammonia into urea
- It eliminates old red blood cells
You simply can’t live without it, that’s why it’s so important to be able to detect and interpret the early symptoms of liver disease.
5 signs of liver damage
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, people with liver damage tend to bruise or bleed easily due to the compromised function of their liver which has inhibited the production of proteins needed for blood clotting.
Liver disease is listed as an underlying cause of itchy skin by the Mayo Clinic, as well as cancer, thyroid problems, and kidney failure. The itching usually affects the whole body. The skin may look otherwise normal except for the repeatedly scratched areas.
When the liver isn’t able to do its job, people may start to retain water in their abdomens and legs, causing swelling, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Skin yellowing is one of the first signs of liver damage. This happens as a result of bilirubin build up, as a damaged liver is unable to filter out toxins properly. Bilirubin is a form of bile pigment, which accumulates in the blood when liver function is compromised and the liver can’t remove the bilirubin. Bile is secreted by the liver to help digestion.
The free flow of bilirubin in the blood makes the skin turn yellow. It’s the fingernails, the tips of your fingers and toes, as well as the eyes that first turn yellow.
Pee and poop
According to Health Service, jaundice also changes the color of the stool, making it pale, as well as the color of the urine, making it dark.
Sometimes, there is no sign that something is wrong. Actually, up to half of the people with a liver disease show no signs at all, as it was found by the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. As for the mild symptoms, the most mutual ones are very nonspecific and they include excessive tiredness or fatigue, lack of drive, occasionally itching.
As a person goes through the early symptoms, the accompanying side effects and the damage become much more serious. The American Liver Foundation explained that people may have their blood vessels leading to the liver burst, and that allows the toxins to reach the brain, accumulate, and eventually interfere with their mental function.
As liver failure progresses, the symptoms can become more serious, says the foundation. The patient could become confused and disoriented, and extremely sleepy. There is a risk of coma and death. In those cases, the patient is left with the only option: a liver transplant.