Human liver plays very important synthetic, metabolic and excretory roles in the body. Its impairment through either acute or chronic conditions can lead to a variety of symptoms, some of which can be so severe that they can lead to permanent disability or even death. Acute liver disease symptoms are usually self-limited. However, such acute liver illnesses may progress to chronic cases resulting in the symptoms of chronic liver disease.
What Causes Liver Disease Symptoms?
Liver disorders can have several causes including genetic predisposition and environmental influences such as viral infections, heavy and protracted alcohol use and weight management problems. After several years of damage, the liver cells (called hepatocytes) are replaced by fibrous (scar) tissue leading to a life threatening condition known as liver failure. Known also as end-stage liver disease, liver failure is only amenable to liver transplant.
Non-specific Liver Disease Symptoms
The non-specific symptoms of liver pathology usually result from the inability of the liver to carryout its normal bodily functions. The classic, non-specific symptoms may include one or combination of any of the following:
- Nausea and vomiting of sudden onset and cannot be explained by any other health condition.
- Abdominal swelling, pain and/or discomfort usually felt in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen
- Jaundice or yellow discoloration of the skin, the sclera and mucus membranes that results from elevated levels of heme metabolism (bilirubin) concentrations in the bloodstream.
- Weakness, fatigue and weight loss may occur as other classic, non-specific symptoms. Some liver diseases may present with weight gain.
Specific Liver Disease Symptoms
In most cases, especially those associated with chronic liver disease may take several forms depending on the cause. The common cause of chronic liver disease is cirrhosis, alcoholic fatty liver and hepetocellular carcinoma. However, almost all chronic liver problems end in cirrhosis. Here are the symptoms of cirrhosis:
- Easy bruising and lacerations from injuries not otherwise expected to cause such problems. These usually results from decreases synthesis and excretion of clotting factors.
- Release of bile salts which enter the bloodstream and deposit in the skin causing severe itching that can impair the affected individual’s ability to carry out his her daily activities.
- Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction (ED), shrinking of the testes (testicular atrophy) and reduced libido resulting from the dysfunction of the sex hormones
- Gynecomastia, which describes enlargement of the male breasts, may occur in people with hormonal imbalance due to cirrhosed liver.
- Ascites, fluid accumulation within the abdominal cavity may result from reduced protein synthesis and there negative colloid pressure.
- Lethargy and confusion, which may result from, elevated ammonia levels in the bloodstream. Ammonia is a waste product of protein catabolism that requires normal liver function for excretion.
The above discussed liver disease symptoms is just a small representation of the true picture. If you or anyone on your family develops any of them, you should take the earliest opportunity to seek medical advice. Some cases of liver disease and quickly progressive and can lead to serious damage to the liver causing death. Be aware of the symptoms and seek early treatment.