You probably don’t think about your liver too much, but it performs important jobs for you. It removes toxins and waste from your body, helps you digest your food, and holds sugar that produces energy. You can’t live without it. Liver disease can be life-threatening, so it’s important for you to know the signs, especially if you’re at risk.
Dr. Oforbuike Ewelukwa, gastroenterology and internal medicine physician, has many years of experience treating patients with liver disease. He reviews your medical history and performs the necessary tests to determine your diagnosis.
If you have liver disease, you could have fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, or alcoholic cirrhosis, which is the most severe form of the disease. Don’t let it get to the advanced stage. Make an appointment with Dr. Ewelukwa if you have any of the risk factors for liver disease.
Risk factors for liver disease
These factors increase your risk for liver disease:
- Alcohol abuse
- Autoimmune diseases
- Hepatitis and other viruses
- Genetic factors
Now that you know common risk factors, learn the warning signs of liver disease. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see Dr. Ewelukwa promptly.
Warning signs of liver disease
Following are warning signs you may have liver disease and need to see a specialist.
If you have liver damage, your liver cannot secrete enough bilirubin from your body. Bilirubin is a yellowish-colored pigment that becomes bile. Bile is an important part of your digestive system. It flushes away waste and breaks down fats during digestion. When it builds up in your body, it can make your skin and the whites of your eyes have a yellowish cast.
You need medical attention immediately if you have jaundice. Sometimes it’s the only sign of liver disease.
Nausea/loss of appetite
When your liver can’t eliminate toxins and waste from your bloodstream, you may feel nauseous frequently. It’s an early warning sign. If it continues unabated, you may also lose your appetite, making you fail to ingest enough nutrients to stay healthy.
Bowel movements are a dark color due to bile excreted from the liver. If your stools have become pale in color, it can mean you have liver damage.
If your urine is now a darker color most of the time than it used to be, it can be a sign of liver damage. It’s caused by the yellowish bilirubin your liver can’t excrete anymore.
Although easy bruising can have other causes, it’s one of the signs of liver damage. In this case, your liver is no longer clotting properly, which causes you to bruise. Liver disease affects proteins in blood cells, disrupting the clotting process.
Fluid retention and discomfort in the abdomen
Do you feel bloated and have a full feeling in your abdomen? Is your abdomen swollen and extended? One of the signs of liver disease is accumulation of fluid in the liver which can cause pain in the abdominal area, especially the right side. Fluid retention is present in up to half of patients with cirrhosis. See Dr. Ewelukwa before it gets to that point.
Call or book an appointment online with Oforbuike Ewelukwa, MD, MSc today if you have digestive problems and any warning signs of liver disease.