Liver and gall bladder symptoms can arise in diseases affecting the liver itself or as a result of complications from conditions affecting other organs or tissues.
The liver performs multiple functions in the body, of which just a few are involved in the digestion pathway. The gall bladder (gallbladder) is a small pouch that is closely associated with the liver, and is involved in digestion and waste elimination.
The liver is the largest (2nd largest if skin is considered an organ) in the body. Blood travels to the liver directly from the intestines where materials (not only nutrients from food) have been absorbed.
The blood then passes through an intricate network of capillary blood vessels where the absorbed materials are processed and metabolized. The blood then leaves the liver and travels to the heart to be distributed to the rest of the body.
The liver also aids in the functions to produce many hormones and blood compounds needed for multiple processes throughout the body.
One of the liver’s functions is to metabolize toxins which have been absorbed by the body. They are then excreted in the feces or in the blood which are eventually filtered into the urine. The liver also acts as a storage location for sugars in the form of glycogen.
The gall bladder stores and releases bile which aids in the digestion of fats, cholesterol, and fat-soluble compounds. The gall bladder also functions to help in the excretion of wastes (including hemoglobin from the breakdown of old red blood cells) from the body.
The characteristic liver disease symptom or liver problem symptom which can be utilized in diagnosis is jaundice. Jaundice occurs when the process by which the liver produces and excretes bile is compromised.
A yellow pigment which is a component of bile, increases in the blood and causes yellowing of skin and the eyes. Jaundice may also be caused by some gall bladder problems or conditions.
Different liver and gall bladder symptoms/disorders are covered below where more specific symptoms can be addressed.