The liver, one of the most vital organs in your body, performs hundreds of tasks that are essential for maintaining life. It aids in digestion, stores energy, produces proteins, and detoxifies the blood. When your liver is damaged over many years, it can no longer perform these functions effectively, leading to chronic liver disease.
Understanding Chronic Liver Disease
Chronic liver disease encompasses a broad range of conditions, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, among others. At their core, all of these diseases involve some degree of liver scarring (fibrosis), which occurs when the liver attempts to repair its damaged cells. With continuous liver cell injury, scar tissue may gradually replace healthy tissue, leading to liver failure, a life-threatening condition.
Warning Signs Of Chronic Liver Disease
Identifying chronic liver disease early on can slow advancement of the disease and even completely halt its progression, says Dr Arun Arora Flushing NY. Below are the key symptoms you should watch out for:
- Jaundice: Jaundice is one of the most indicative signs of a liver problem. It occurs when the liver isn’t able to break down a certain waste product, bilirubin, leading to yellowing of the skin and eyes.
- Abdominal Pain and Swelling: Inflamed or enlarged liver, fluid buildup in the abdomen, or gastroesophageal varices (enlarged veins at the lower end of the esophagus) can result in chronic abdominal pain or a feeling of fullness.
- Swelling in the Legs and Ankles: Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet can occur due to fluid buildup, a condition called edema, which is a common symptom of liver disease.
- Chronic Fatigue: Fatigue and weakness can be symptoms of many health conditions, liver disease included. It’s often described as ongoing tiredness, sluggishness, and having a lack of energy.
- Changes in Stool or Urine: You may experience dark urine, pale-colored stools, or bloody or tar-colored stools as a result of liver damage.
- Itchy Skin: Liver disease may cause your skin to itch, often severely, due to bilirubin deposition in the skin.
- Loss of Appetite: Loss of appetite, leading to unexplained weight loss, can be a prominent sign of liver disease.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Digestive issues, including nausea and vomiting, may occur when the liver is unable to properly process toxins and wastes.
If you have any of these recurring warning signs, especially several of them, it’s important to see your healthcare provider promptly, says Dr Arun Arora Flushing NY. A timely diagnosis can equip you with the best means to manage the disease and minimize damage to your liver.
Protecting Your Liver
It’s never too late to start protecting your liver, says Dr Arun Arora Flushing NY:
- Drink alcohol in moderation or abstain completely.
- Avoid risky behavior that might lead to liver infections like hepatitis.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Use over-the-counter medications with caution and follow the recommended doses.
- Avoid contact with harmful toxins.
Remember, when it comes to chronic liver disease, early detection is the key to a favorable outcome. By knowing the symptoms and acting quickly, you can significantly improve your health prognosis.