The liver is a large organ located just under the right side of the rib cage. It is a very important organ that aids with the digestion of foods, absorption of nutrients and rids the body of toxins. Without the functions your liver performs you would not be able to survive. A large number of diseases and conditions can lead to liver problem symptoms. Liver problem symptoms can be induced by viruses (such as hepatitis), medications, and congenital (inherited) conditions. Liver problem symptoms, regardless of their cause, are a result of the liver’s inability to function properly. These symptoms include:
- Extreme abdominal pain, particularly on the right side.
- Urine that is unusually dark.
- Decreased appetite.
- Skin itch for unknown reason and does not subside.
- Change in stool color.
- Yellow skin
- Yellowing of the whites of the eyes (jaundice).
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bruising with no acute trauma.
- Changes in mental status.
Liver problem symptoms can progress to cirrhosis and then to liver failure. Cirrhosis of the liver is permanent damage to the liver that does not allow the liver to function. When left untreated, the liver will fail. Since the body cannot function without the liver, if the liver fails completely, death will occur. Some of the conditions that cause liver problem symptoms are:
- Hepatitis (all varieties)
- Chronic alcohol consumption
- Medications taken in toxic quantities. Acetaminophen taken in excess over a long period of time can cause liver problem symptoms.
- Consuming poisonous mushrooms. Care should be taken to verify any mushroom you find in the forest is edible.
- Liver cancer
- Benign liver cyst
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-fat builds up in and around the liver.
- Bile duct obstruction-the bile duct attaches the gall bladder tot the liver. If this duct becomes clogged it can cause bile to back up in the liver and damage it.
- Infection with parasites that lodge in the liver.
This is not a comprehensive list of all conditions that can cause liver problem systems, however it does encompass many of the more common causes. When you visit your doctor, be prepared to give a detailed history of the symptoms you have. Your doctor will use one or more of these diagnostic tools to determine what is causing your liver problem symptoms:
1. Blood tests – Liver function tests are performed to determine how well the liver is functioning. Other blood tests may be performed to see if other organs are affected and if a virus is present.
2. Imaging studies – of the liver are performed to reveal structural changes in the liver and to assess the extent of any liver damage.
3. Biopsy – A long needle is inserted into the liver and a small amount of tissue extracted. The tissue is examined under a microscope in a laboratory to determine if cancer or other cell abnormalities are present.
Early diagnosis of liver disease symptoms is crucial to stopping permanent liver damage. If you have symptoms that do not resolve or have pain that does not allow you to rest, consult your health professional.