10 Symptoms of Liver Disease

Your liver is one of the largest organs in your body, weighing in at three pounds. Its primary jobs are to filter and process the blood that comes from your digestive system, store energy, and make specialized proteins. 

Liver disease affects these functions, which may have long-term health implications if not diagnosed and treated during the early stages.

At GastroMed, our experienced, board-certified gastroenterologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of liver disease. Though liver disease may develop from many causes, the underlying symptoms are similar. 

To ensure you get the immediate care you need, we want to share the 10 most common symptoms of liver disease.

1. Yellowing of the eyes or skin

Yellowing of the eyes or skin — jaundice — is a common liver disease symptom. The yellowing occurs due to an increase in bilirubin, which is a pigment found in bile. 

Bile is made in your liver and supports fat digestion in your small intestine. 

2. Change in stool color

Normally, stools are various shades of brown. However, with liver disease your stools may appear paler than normal. Pale stools develop when your liver isn’t producing enough bile, which contains the pigment that creates the brown-colored stools. 

3. Dark urine

Urine color may vary depending on the amount of fluid you drink each day. However, if your urine is brown, maroon, or a dark yellow, it may be due to the presence of bile from a malfunctioning liver. 

4. Itchy skin

Though itchy skin can develop from many causes, it’s also a common symptom of liver disease. The irritating symptom may occur from an accumulation of bile salts under your skin. 

5. Decrease in appetite

Like your itchy skin, loss of appetite is a common symptom that may have many causes. However, with liver disease, you may also find that you can’t eat as much as you used to because you fill up too quickly. 

6. Abdominal pain

Some of the causes of liver disease lead to inflammation of the organ that may result in abdominal pain

7. Feeling more tired than usual

Like any disease, problems with your liver may make you feel more run down than usual. However, your liver also serves as a storage area for glucose, which is the body’s preferred source of energy. 

Liver disease may affect energy storage and exacerbate your fatigue. 

8. Swollen ankles or legs

Swelling in the ankles or legs is also a common symptom of liver disease. An accumulation of fluids may develop due to a decrease in the production of albumin, a protein made in the liver. This protein helps keep fluid in the blood vessels. 

When albumin levels are low, the fluid leaks out of the blood vessels and into the tissue, creating the swelling in your ankles and legs. You may also experience swelling in your abdominal area.

9. Nausea and vomiting

With liver disease, you may develop nausea and vomiting due to the accumulation of waste products in your blood. Nausea is sometimes an early symptom of liver disease. 

10. Bruising easily

Your liver produces proteins that help with blood clotting. If you seem to bruise more easily than normal, it may be from liver disease. 

Liver disease doesn’t always cause obvious signs and symptoms. If you have any ongoing, unexplained symptoms and fear you may have liver disease, we can help. Contact the Miami, Florida office nearest you by phone, or schedule an appointment online today. 

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