What are the signs of liver problems?

Liver symptoms describe a wide range of symptoms that are caused by disorders of or injury to the liver. The liver is an organ in the digestive system that assists the digestive process and carries out many other essential functions. These functions include producing bile to help break down food into energy; creating essential substances, such as hormones; cleaning toxins from the blood, including those from medication, alcohol and drugs; and controlling fat storage and cholesterol production and release.

Symptoms may arise from inflammation, infection, trauma, or toxic injury, such as that caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Because one of the liver’s important functions is clearing toxins from the bloodstream, the liver is highly exposed to contact with alcohol, drugs, and other toxic substances that can damage it. Specific conditions that can cause liver symptoms include hepatitis (liver inflammation often caused by viral infection), cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver abscess, liver cancer, and hemochromatosis (buildup of excess iron in body tissues).

Liver symptoms commonly include abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, enlarged liver, fatty liver, and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice). Because liver symptoms can be caused by many different conditions, some of which are serious, it is important for you to contact your health care provider to determine the underlying cause.

Liver symptoms may be associated with serious conditions. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms associated with complications of liver disorders, including problems with memory, confusion, agitation, change in level of consciousness or alertness, change in mental status, extreme fatigue, fainting, fever (especially if combined with a swollen abdomen, or vomiting blood.

Seek prompt medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms, including yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice), abdominal pain (especially in the right upper abdomen), nausea with or without vomiting, clay-colored stools, dark urine, fever or chills, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, or weakness. Also seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for a liver disorder but have symptoms that persist, recur, or cause you concern.


What other symptoms might occur with liver symptoms?

Liver symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Common liver and gastrointestinal symptoms

Symptoms that frequently affect the liver and gastrointestinal tract include the following:


What causes liver symptoms?

Major causes of liver symptoms include infectious disorders and scarring, or cirrhosis, of the liver. Other leading causes of liver symptoms are nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (more serious type of nonalcoholic fatty liver), hemochromatosis (buildup of excess iron), and liver cancer.

Infectious causes of liver symptoms

Liver symptoms may ... Read more about liver symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System

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