Although the term “liver disease” describes a range of health ailments, there are some signs and symptoms which are common to multiple types of liver disease. These symptoms are the body’s way of indicating that a liver is having a difficult time functioning (or in extreme cases, is barely functioning).

One factor to bear in mind is that there are many types of liver disease which develop slowly, with minimal symptoms or with no symptoms at all. This may mislead a sick person to assume that he or she is perfectly healthy when in fact fast care is needed. If you are aware that you are at high risk for developing a liver disease, you should speak to your doctor about being tested so that any condition can be caught in its early stages before permanent damage is done. If liver disease goes on to long, it could lead to irreversible liver failure.

Jaundice

When your liver is damaged, unhealthy levels of bile build up in your system. When this occurs, an excess of the bile pigment known as bilirubin affects your blood and turns your skin yellow. Your eyes may also become yellowed due to jaundice. Jaundice is perhaps the most obvious sign of liver disease. It’s notable that liver disease isn’t the only cause of jaundice; newborns often develop a type of harmless neonatal jaundice. Nevertheless, if you find your skin or the whites of your eyes taking on a yellowish hue, you should ask to be tested for liver disease.

Liver enlargement

Liver enlargement is also called hepatomegaly. When the liver is infected, poisoned or hosting a cancer, it may actually increase in size. In order to identify this condition, a doctor will use a computer tomopgraphy scan or an abdominal ultrasound to look inside the body cavity and see the size of the liver.

Confusion

When the liver is not working right, toxins (such as regularly-produced ammonia) are not flushed out of the blood but instead start to build up. Eventually, this begins to affect the brain’s ability to function. It manifests itself outwardly as confusion and disorientation. If not addressed, this condition can result in long term nervous system damage or death due to brain swelling. Where this symptom is seen, hospitalization is usually mandated. This symptom is also referred to as hepatic encephalopathy.

Itching Skin

One symptom that may not be quickly recognized as a problem with the liver is itching skin; nevertheless it is a common indicator. One reason for this may be that the liver usually cleans out the blood stream; when it is not working, the toxins stay and irritate the skin. Remember that not all itching indicates liver disease, particularly when there is an insect bite or exposure to an irritant like poison ivy; nevertheless, if your itchy skin is an ongoing problem, you should be examined by a doctor to rule out the possibility of liver disease.

Others

The liver is a crucial organ; when it is ailing, so is the whole body. There are a host of symptoms which (while being non-specific to liver disease) could indicate a liver problem. These symptoms include nausea, pain in the abdomen, feelings of extreme fatigue and high blood pressure.