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Symptoms and Signs of Liver Disease

Doctor's Notes on Liver Disease Symptoms, Signs, and Treatments

Liver disease is a partial or complete dysfunction of one or more of the critical functions the healthy liver otherwise performs. Liver disease may be acute and/or chronic but usually it takes a large amount of liver damage to occur before signs and symptoms are produced. Examples of common signs and symptoms of liver disease are jaundice (yellowing of skin and/or sclera), easy bruising or bleeding, edema (leg swelling, abdominal swelling), and fatigue. Liver disease symptoms and signs usually indicate an underlying problem exists within the liver.

The most common causes of liver diseases are acute hepatitis and chronic hepatitis (inflammation from viral infections and/or other pathogenic organisms), cirrhosis (for example, alcoholic – caused liver cell damage and/or a number of drugs like Tylenol), fatty liver disease (alcohol consumption, obesity, and other metabolic conditions like diabetes), and primary liver cell cancers or cancers that are metastatic. Other causes of the disease are genetic abnormalities; in some patients, the cause of the liver disease is not known.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Liver Disease Symptoms, Signs, and Treatments Symptoms

Acute and chronic liver diseases can interfere with the functions of the liver and thereby cause symptoms. However, the liver has a hefty reserve capacity. In other words, it usually takes substantial damage to the liver before a disease interferes with the functions of the liver and causes symptoms. Examples of such symptoms are:

  • Jaundice (yellow skin) that can occur when the liver is unable to properly metabolize or secrete the yellow pigment bilirubin in bile
  • Bleeding or easy bruising that can occur when the liver is unable to make enough of the normal blood clotting proteins
  • Swelling of the legs with fluid (edema) that can occur when the liver is unable to make enough albumin and the serum albumin gets too low
  • Fatigue that is of unknown cause, but may be related to some impaired metabolic function of the liver

Alcohol Abuse 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking Slideshow

Alcohol Abuse 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking Slideshow

Alcohol consumption can cause numerous diseases. Many people know that heavy drinking can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and is a leading cause of automobile accidents. But did you know chronic drinking could also lead to cancer and heart attack? Read on to find out consequences of heavy drinking.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.