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The liver is responsible for many major functions, and its ability to flush out harmful toxins is the most important one. And hence, the organ is under a lot of pressure and at a high risk of infections due to its job of eliminating toxins. So to prevent liver disease or hepatitis, it is important to monitor and take care of the functioning of the liver. Understanding the key signs of liver damage might help in diagnosing the condition at an early stage and prevent its progression into liver failure. Our expert Dr Akshay Challani, Critical Care Specialist and Physician, Akshjyot Clinic, Navi Mumbai, reveals some of the early key signs that indicate your liver is in trouble.
1. Loss of appetite: One of the first signs of a liver problem is the lack of appetite. Any damage to the liver leads to accumulation of toxins in the body, which affect your appetite adversely. Moreover, it also hinders the absorption of vitamins and minerals, which leads to weakness and fatigue. So if you have been suffering from loss of appetite for more than a week, you should consult a doctor.
2. Nausea and vomiting: Another common symptom of liver damage is nausea and vomiting which is mainly attributed to the toxic overload on the liver. This, in turn, triggers indigestion and other stomach woes, leading to persistent vomiting. Also, if you have been experiencing nausea or vomiting immediately after eating or drinking anything, it s time to consult your physician.
3. Discoloration of eyes: A vital sign of jaundice or hepatitis is yellowing of the eyes and skin. However, if there is a general discoloration of eyes, especially in the morning, then it might signify liver damage. Hence, it is important to monitor carefully the changes in eyes as it might be one of the few early signs that your liver is not functioning properly.
4. Dark urine: As there is an increased production of bile salts when the liver doesn't function properly, lack of enzymes to break down these salts leads to accumulation of bile pigments in the body, which are excreted in urine and faeces. As these pigments are slightly dark in colour, the urine colour changes from light yellow to dark yellow, which is a visible sign of liver damage. And when coupled with discoloration of eyes, it is a tell-a-tale sign of jaundice or hepatitis. Here's more on what the colour of urine says about your health.
5. Abdominal pain and swelling: The liver is located in the upper-right part of the abdomen and any significant pain in this area or discomfort might be a clear sign of some liver damage. In addition to this, distension of the abdomen might indicate swelling of the liver, indicating the need to visit a doctor at the earliest, to rule out any severe liver problem. Read more about 5 types of stomach pain and what it indicates.
6. Swelling in feet: Yes, not many people are aware of the fact that liver damage could manifest as swelling in feet or oedema. This is due to the inability of the liver to flush out toxins, which causes a buildup of waste products, hindering blood flow. These products deposit in different parts of body, mainly in feet, leading to swelling.
If you are alcoholic, eat unhygienic food or recently suffered from jaundice or liver infection, then you are more prone to suffer from liver damage as compared to a healthy individual. So if you experience any of these symptoms, don't ignore but consult your doctor immediately. Also, read about the common causes of liver disease.
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