Liver damage can be caused by many factors related to liver disease, like with hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver diseases such as NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and NASH (Nonalcoholic steatophepatitis), liver cancer, and other liver disease conditions.
The liver is a vital organ we need to sustain life. It’s the second largest organ in the body. It is located under the rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. It weighs about three pounds and is shaped like a football that is flat one side.
We often hear of liver disease being a ‘silent disease’ due to signs and symptoms do not often show up until significant liver damage has occurred.
Many people though may not experience any sign or symptoms at the onset of liver disease. People may first experience signs and symptoms but disregard them thinking they are experiencing flu or run down.
The most common of all symptoms is chronic fatigue and overall not feeling well.
Symptoms can progress to:
- Chronic fatigue
- Swelling in the legs, ankles or abdomen
- Itchy skin
- Skin and eyes may take on a yellowish color (jaundice). This does not always appear at first.
- *Pale stool color, or bloody, or black colored stool
- Nausea or vomiting
- Possible dark urine
- Abdominal pain
- Confusion or brain fog
To diagnose liver disease a series of tests need to be done first with blood tests, and physical exam by your physician. Blood tests can be done to see if the liver enzyme panel is leveled indicating a possible problem with the liver. Blood tests can also be done to check for hepatitis. There are 5 different forms of hepatitis, A, B, C, D, and E.
Follow up tests of Ultra-sound, CAT scan, MRI can be done to check for enlarged liver, cysts, tumors, and other abnormalities.
What to do
It is best to be seen by a physician who specializes in liver diseases like a hepatologist or gastroenterologist. These physicians are specifically trained in liver disease, tests, procedures and treatments that can help you.
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This entry was originally published in Life Beyond Hep C, and is reprinted with permission.