12 signs your liver is in trouble
As one of the body’s largest organs, it’s responsible for metabolic functions like converting nutrients from your diet so your body can use them and making sure toxic substances are flushed out before they cause any harm, according to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care.
But when your liver is in trouble and not functioning properly, there are a handful of ways it tries to tell you that something is wrong. Here are 20 liver warning signs you should be on the lookout for.
1. Loss of Appetite
Not enough bile means loss of appetite. The bile helps in fat digestion, and when the food is not properly digested, you have reduced appetite and drastic loss of weight.
2 Your sleep patterns are inconsistent.
There are many things that can disturb your sleep pattern, but a study published in the Egyptian Journal of Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis found one possible culprit is liver cirrhosis, which can make it especially hard to get a good night’s rest—even if you’re counting sleep like it’s your job.
3. Your memory isn’t at its sharpest.
Forgetting where you left your car keys is one thing, but if your memory has gotten much worse lately, there might be a reason for that. When you’re experiencing liver failure, the organ can’t properly remove toxins from the blood, and that can result in them building up in the brain.
4. Weakness and Fatigue
One of the early and obvious symptoms of liver damage is weakness and constant tiredness. Damaged liver causes the body to work harder, therefore requiring more rest. This is due to the inability of liver to eliminate toxins from the blood. If you have these symptoms for a longer period, consult a doctor.
5. Your skin itches
Sure, your skin might just be dry, but if it’s becoming a regular thing, it might be worth getting checked out—especially because itchy skin is also an indicator of cirrhosis of the liver, the Cleveland Clinic says.
6. You notice yellowing of your eyes or skin.
Seeing the whites of your eyes start to turn yellow—or experiencing yellowing of your skin—can be incredibly scary, but it has a solid explanation: it’s called jaundice and it’s due to a high level of bilirubin in the body, which is a yellowish pigment that’s secreted by the liver. This change is caused by increased levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream.
7. You experience sudden weight gain.
If you’re suddenly gaining weight out of nowhere, your liver might be to blame. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it could be a sign you have liver cirrhosis, a disease that develops slowly and replaces healthy liver tissue with scar tissue, blocking blood flow through the liver and inhibiting the organ from working properly.
8. Your palms turn red.
Speaking of red flags, do you suddenly have red palms for no reason? It could be due to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that, according to the Mayo Clinic, involves too much fat being stored in liver cells that affects people who barely drink—or totally avoid!—alcohol.
9. Your breasts become enlarged.
One of the most shocking warning signs of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is experiencing enlarged breasts if you’re a man. It’s a very mind-boggling occurrence, but there’s an explanation. It’s thought that the growth of excess breast tissue—aka gynecomastia—occurs due to an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone.
10. You experience swelling of your legs or ankles.
According to the Mayo Clinic, liver disease can be caused by everything from alcohol use to obesity, and one common warning sign is something you probably wouldn’t expect: swelling in your legs and ankles. If you’re experiencing puffiness and aren’t sure why, a visit to your doc might be in order to make sure it’s not something serious.
11. Your urine is a darker color than usual.
Seeing dark urine in the toilet after going to the bathroom can be a total shocker—and it’s also one of the tell-tale signs of liver damage, the Mayo Clinic says. While bilirubin is responsible for the yellowing of the eyes or skin, it can also change the color of your urine, says Johns Hopkins Medicine.
12. Your eyes or mouth are dry.
There are plenty of different reasons behind experiencing dry eyes or a dry mouth—from your age to the medications you’re taking—but one possible culprit is a lot more serious. Primary biliary cholangitis is known to cause the problem, the Mayo Clinic says, but luckily it’s an early symptom of the chronic disease.
These are just 12 of the many early signs of liver damage. For example, liver damage can also cause hormonal imbalance in men, leading to loss of libido and enlarged breasts in men. If you notice any of these changes, consult your doctor immediately.