The liver is the largest internal organ of the human body. It performs 500 different functions including removing toxins from the blood, processing medicine, producing bile, digesting fat, storing glucose, producing protein and many other. Dr. Arvind Khurana, Director & HOD, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, Gastroenterology and Hepatology Sciences talks about the signs of liver diseases.
The liver does not get damaged easily because of its regenerating and repairing capabilities. Surprisingly, even an 80 percent damaged liver can function properly. But once it is damaged beyond a level, the recovery is impossible. Continuous damage to the liver can cause inflammation, scaring and cirrhosis.
This leads to hardening and shrinking of the liver. It also changes the structure of the liver and prevents it from functioning well. The liver is essential for digesting food and ridding your body of toxic substances. It plays important role in metabolizing fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It also helps in metabolizing drugs and toxins. Liver disease can be caused by various agents.
The most common culprits are viral infections (called viral hepatitis), alcohol (consumption of more than 20 to 30 gm of alcohol), excessive weight (BMI more than 30), drugs and toxins and hereditary diseases.
Most of acute illnesses or insults lead to complete recovery while most of chronic diseases like hepatitis B and C, alcohol and obesity can lead to permanent damage to the liver resulting in shrunken and hard liver, condition called liver cirrhosis.
Since it is difficult to diagnose liver damage on the early stages because of the regenerating properties of the liver, it is very important to watch out these early signs of liver damage:
1. Loss of appetite and weakness- most of the patient develop anorexia, lethargy, weakness and nausea
2. Jaundice- presence of high coloured urine and yellowness of eyes and skin in fair skin people is clear indicator of liver disease
3. Appearance of swollen feet and tummy indicates water retention. It indicates advanced liver disease
4. Rashes on the body, easy bruising, nasal bleeding, blood vomiting and itching
5. Disturbances or alteration in consciousness, forgetfulness, disturbed sleep pattern may indicate advance liver disease