How can I recognize liver disease?

The liver is an important organ that has multiple functions. It determines blood volume, metabolism and produces clotting factors (for blood to clot when it comes into contact with air). Without the liver the body could not function. There are numerous diseases that can affect the liver. Because there are so many liver diseases, it is difficult to identify exactly which liver disease you are dealing with. What can be the symptoms of liver disease?

Recognizing liver disease

  • What is the function of a liver?
  • What types of liver diseases are there?
  • How can liver disease be recognized?

What is the function of a liver?

The liver is an organ with multiple functions. This organ is responsible, among other things, for metabolism. The organ also stores proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The organ also produces bile. Bile is a substance that ensures that fats can be digested. The liver is also good for removing substances that can be harmful to the body. In addition, the liver produces clotting factors and helps determine blood volume. The liver is indispensable to the body because of this important range of functions.

What types of liver diseases are there?

There are all kinds of diseases that can cause the liver to not function properly. This often makes it difficult to determine the exact cause.

  • Gilbert’s disease
  • Wilson’s disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hemachromatosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Cancer
  • Hepatic adenoma
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver tumor
  • Fatty liver disease
  • NASH (non-alcoholic staetohepatitis)

How can liver disease be recognized?

Because there are so many different conditions that affect the liver, there is a wide range of symptoms. However, some of these symptoms are more common regardless of which condition you have. These include the symptoms of jaundice, swelling of the liver and fatigue. There is a chance that you may be dealing with a condition that is not that serious and may have nothing to do with your liver. Only a doctor can provide a definitive answer as to exactly what condition you are dealing with.

Jaundice

Jaundice cannot really be described as a disease (or condition). It is a collective name for certain symptoms that can arise as a result of liver and/or gallbladder disorders. Jaundice can be recognized by, among other things, the appearance of itching, dark urine and the whites of the eyes turning yellow. The itching is caused by too few toxins being removed by the liver. These are waste products that must be filtered by the liver and ultimately leave the body. In addition, it is possible that your stool loses its color. The symptoms arise due to an increased amount of ‘bilirubin’. Bilirubin is a waste product that is mainly produced when old red blood cells break down. This waste material can therefore partly be seen in the whites of the eyes. The waste is toxic to the body and leaves the body during urination.

Swelling

As a result of liver disease, the liver can swell. This occurs, among other things, in patients who have a so-called ‘liver adenoma’ or people with liver cancer. Liver adenomas are benign tumors located in the liver. If a tumor has the ability to spread and this causes metastases, it is called liver cancer. When a tumor starts to bleed, the liver can swell. This can cause low blood pressure and abdominal pain. Ultimately, one may experience dizziness and even palpitations.

Stomach ache

Stomach pain (or heartburn) can have various causes. For example, it can arise from eating spoiled food. In addition, heartburn can also be a symptom of possible liver disease. It is important to contact your doctor if these symptoms return regularly.

Fatigue

As a result of liver disease, fatigue can occur because in this case the liver must be more active to process the same amount of toxins. An overactive liver requires more energy, which can cause the patient to feel tired. However, fatigue occurs in numerous diseases and conditions, so the symptom is often not immediately associated with liver disease.