Scientists estimate that between 80-100 million Americans suffer from fatty liver disease. This condition occurs when your body has too much fat and cannot metabolize it properly. The fat cells are stored in the liver, which causes it to swell and build up high levels of triglycerides.
Fatty liver is often not severe enough to cause full liver failure, but this organ has the power to regenerate itself. If you eat right and take preventative measures, then you can reverse the damage. However, how do you know if your liver is in trouble?
Signs of Liver Damage
Your body will give you signs that there is an issue. Even though you cannot see it, your liver is speaking to you. Here are 15 signs that your liver is in trouble.
1. Your Sleep Patterns are Chaotic
Did you know that one of the main culprits of sleep deprivation is cirrhosis? When your liver isn’t functioning correctly, then it can be hard to get a good night of rest. A study conducted by the Egyptian Journal of Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis proved this theory.
In 2012, Menoufiya University Hospital studied 30 patients with cirrhosis. Their findings were conclusive that liver problems and sleep deprivation run hand-in-hand.
2. Your Skin Itches
One of the first signs that your liver is not functioning correctly is that your skin will itch. The clinical name for this condition is primary biliary cholangitis. The impairment caused in this vital organ has damaged the bile ducts, which creates a build-up of bile.
3. Yellowing Eyes
It can be scary to look in the mirror and see the whites of your eyes have a yellow cast to them. However, this is called jaundice, and it’s all caused by the build-up of bilirubin in the body. When the body has too much bilirubin, the liver will begin excreting it. Yellowing eyes can stem from cirrhosis, fatty liver, or hepatitis B.
4. You Have Memory Problems
Have you noticed that you forget things that you usually would remember? When your liver is failing, the build-up of toxins in the blood can affect your brain. The clinical term for this is hepatic encephalopathy, and it’s a severe problem that needs immediate medical attention.
5. You’re Constantly Fatigued
Chronic fatigue can be a symptom of many diseases. However, an unhealthy liver may be the culprit. In 2006, a study was conducted by the Christian Medical College in India. They found that oxidative stress occurs when the fatty liver or another disease causes impaired liver function. If you have fatigue with no identifiable reason, then it could be your liver causing the problem.
6. Your Weight is Going Up or Down
If your weight takes a drastic turn up or down without effort, then it can be a sign of a fatty liver. Cirrhosis of the liver is caused by damage. Over time, the healthy liver tissues are replaced by scarring.
The scars don’t allow the organ to work correctly, which can cause a difference in your metabolism. A weight change of more than 10-15 pounds in either direction needs to be evaluated.
7. Men Develop Breasts
If you have fatty liver disease, then men can develop enhanced breast tissue. It’s mostly observed with the nonalcoholic varieties. It seems weird that the liver can cause breasts, but there is a medical reason behind this phenomenon.
Gynecomastia, which is an imbalance of hormones in the body, is caused by liver damage. It’s disrupting the making of estrogen and testosterone. When a diseased liver is present, then it can cause all sorts of problems in the body.
8. You Have Edema in Ankles and Legs
Obesity and alcohol are two culprits that contribute to a diseased liver. Consequently, you wouldn’t think that problems with your liver would result in excess fluid in your feet and ankles.
You must realize that many issues within your body can cause edema, including heart problems. However, it’s just one of the signs that your liver is not working as it should.
9. Your Body Bruises Easily
It’s not uncommon to bruise easily as you age. Your skin becomes thinner, and this can cause marks to appear on your body for seemingly no reason. When you have problems with your liver, unexplained bruising can be a sign that this organ is not functioning correctly. The worse off the condition of this vital organ, the worse the bruising can become.
10. The Palms of Your Hands are Bright Red
Everyone has a different pigmentation to their skin and specifically the palms of their hands. However, have you noticed that your palms have been redder than usual, and there is no apparent reason? Fatty liver may be the culprit.
Even if you don’t drink regularly or have never touched a drop, your liver can develop cirrhosis type damage from scar tissue build up. The excessive bile and toxins in your body can cause your palms to have an enhanced hue.
11. Your Urine Is Dark
There are only a few things that cause dark urine, and one of them is a fatty liver. The same high levels of bilirubin that is causing your skin and eyes to turn yellow are also causing problems for your urine. The kidneys are also affected by your damaged liver, and it can’t filter all this bilirubin from your pee.
12. You’re Plagued with Dry Eyes or a Dry Mouth
Having dry eyes or a dry mouth is quite a common problem. Many medications on the market have this as a side effect. While it seems like a benign issue, it can be an indication that something more sinister is lurking inside.
When you have a damaged liver, the signs are easy to catch promptly. Dry eyes and mouth can be caused by primary biliary cholangitis, which means the liver is not functioning as it should. The good news is that this appears early on the liver disease spectrum, and it can be one of the main symptoms that your doctor uses to help point them in the right direction for your care.
13. Your Concentration is Suffering
Concentration issues aren’t always the hallmark of liver problems as everyone experiences issues with their attention span at one time or another. However, if your concentration problems have become commonplace, then it warrants an evaluation.