Irving Primary Care

4 Warning Signs of Liver Disease

Our liver is responsible for many critical functions within our body. If it becomes diseased or gets injured, it can cause significant damage to the body.

Liver disease (also called hepatic disease) is any disturbance in the liver that can cause illness. It is a broad term that encompasses all potential problems that might cause the liver to fail and hinder its performance. Generally, a decrease in liver function occurs if more than 75% of the liver tissue gets affected.

Let’s look at the probable causes and warning signs of liver disease.

Causes of Liver Disease

Infection: Virus and bacteria can infect your liver and cause inflammation that might impair the liver. The parasites that cause liver damage can enter the blood or semen from contaminated food or water or close contact with an infected person.

Abnormality in the immune system: When your immune system attacks certain parts of your body, it can affect your liver. Such conditions include autoimmune diseases like autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cholangitis.

Genetics: An abnormal gene inherited from one or both of your parents can cause various substances to build up in your liver, resulting in liver damage. Examples include hemochromatosis, Wilson\’s disease, and cancer.

Other common causes include:

  • Severe alcohol abuse
  • Accumulation of fat in the liver
  • Certain herbal compounds and OTC medicines

Warning Signs of Liver Disease

1. Jaundice

The most prevalent warning sign of liver disease is jaundice. If you have jaundice, your urine might appear darker, and your skin and the whites of your eyes might look pale and yellow.

Jaundice occurs when bilirubin builds up in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is a pigment that is produced when red blood cells break down. A damaged liver cannot absorb the bilirubin and convert it into bile.

2. Fluid Accumulation

One of the common early warning signs of liver disease is fluid accumulation. It occurs in 50% of people suffering from cirrhosis, an ailment in which scarred tissue displaces healthy liver tissue.

Accumulating fluid may cause distension in your abdomen or swelling in your legs. This occurs when the blood pressure in your liver veins increases or when your liver is not able to produce albumin, which is a protein that prevents leakage from your blood into the tissue.

3. Bleeding

If you are suffering from liver disease, you may notice blood in stool or vomit or experience rectal bleeding. Generally, blood flows through the liver like a car driving on a high-speed highway, but when you have cirrhosis, the blood’s journey becomes bumpy due to scarring.

As a result, the blood tries to find detours. The blood might travel to the spleen, which can enlarge to relieve the congestion, and enlarged veins can quickly start to bleed.  A healthy liver can produce clotting proteins, but a sick liver might not be able to. As a result, more bleeding can occur.

4. Memory Problems

Confusion and memory problems are also common warning signs of liver disease. When your liver is not capable of filtering out toxins, these toxins might travel to the brain. This can cause memory issues, confusion, lethargy and even coma.

A doctor may prescribe the laxative lactulose to keep the toxins in your colon and flush them out before they get into your bloodstream and travel to the brain.

Health One Family Medicine is here to help

If you notice the early warning signs of liver disease, make an appointment with Health One Family Medicine right away. We can conduct a diagnostic exam to find the underlying cause for liver disease and suggest treatment options for you. To make an appointment with a Health One Family Medicine practitioner, visit or call (469)262-5762 today.

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