DO YOU suffer with stomach bloating or fatigue? Here are seven worrying symptoms of liver failure that you should look out for.
Liver disease is the only major cause of death still increasing year-on-year, according to the British Liver Trust.
It is also the fifth biggest killer in England and Wales, after heart disease, cancer, strokes and respiratory diseases.
The number of people who died from liver disease in England in 2001 was 9,231, whereas the death toll rose to 11,575 in 2009.
The liver is extremely important as it is the largest internal organ. It protects all your tissues from damage by filtering out toxins from your bloodstream.
It can even repair and regenerate its own damaged tissue if given the right time and care
However, some liver conditions leave permanent damage, and in these cases, early diagnosis and swift treatment can mean the difference between an uncomfortable (but treatable) illness and a life-threatening emergency.
The problem is – despite the worrying statistics – many people aren’t aware of the symptoms of liver disease.
So here are seven early warning signs to help you catch it early:
- SWOLLEN STOMACH
If you have a swollen stomach or a pronounced potbelly is could be a sign of the condition ascites.
This is caused by an imbalance of proteins and other compounds and fluid builds up in the tissues causing liver malfunction.
Bruising easily could be a sign that your liver isn’t working properly. A damaged liver produces fewer of the proteins necessary for blood clotting, which means you may bleed and bruise more easily
It can be easy to blame fatigue on long hours in the office or a string of heavy nights out, but if you constantly feel tired it could be a sign of something a lot more serious.
Severe exhaustion could point to low blood oxygen levels and waste accumulation.
- ABDOMINAL PAIN
Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver caused by continuous long-term liver damage. One of the main symptoms of this is pain in the upper right abdomen, or just under the lower right ribs.
The pain can be throbbing or stabbing and it may come and go. If the pain is so intense that you can’t sit still you should see your GP immediately
- LOSS OF APPETITE
If you normally have a big appetite but suddenly lose all interest in food, this could be an early warning sign of a liver problem.
You should also watch out for nausea and digestive discomfort.
- YELLOW SKIN
Liver damage means the body can no longer get rid of waste from the body effectively. This means the bile pigment bilirubin can build up in the bloodstream causing jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Your urine can also appear darker and stools will appear lighter.
While nausea and upset stomach are common early symptoms of liver disease, unexplained and persistent vomiting could be a sign of more advanced liver problems.
As your liver’s ability to eliminate toxins decreases, your digestive distress will likely increase.
If you have any of these symptoms or you are concerned about liver disease speak to your doctor straight away.
Your GP will perform several quick and painless tests to assess whether you have liver damage and the extent of it – they will then be able to recommend you the right form of treatment.