The liver, sized about a football, is an important organ of the human body situated on the right side of the abdomen just below the rib cage. It performs a lot of functions to keep our body healthy and working, like producing bile for proper digestion, building proteins required for blood clotting, getting rid of toxic substances from the body, storing glycogen and other vitamins, etc. There can be various reasons for liver damage. Some liver diseases can be genetic as well. However, most of the issues with the liver arise because we don’t take care of it well enough. While thinking of important organs, the liver often misses the count. But if liver damage worsens, it can prove fatal as well.
This article attempts to make you aware of potential liver damage that has been masking under other inconveniences. Listed below are the early cues of liver damage that you can pick up:
- Loss of Appetite: One of the most common signs of an unwell liver. Earlier you couldn’t stop craving food, and now you have little or no desire to eat anything? If this occurs too frequently or for a longer duration, you ought to get yourself checked up.
- Reduced Retention Power: Are you finding it difficult to retain things in memory? Do you get confused easily? You leave your car keys in the bedroom and are searching for them in the living room? Memory not being at its sharpest may be another early sign of liver damage. Because the liver is unable to remove all the toxins properly, these are getting built up and affecting the brain functions. Too many toxins may ultimately result in dementia.
- Sleep Schedule gone for a Toss: This is easy to spot if you had a consistent sleep schedule. If you find it hard to sleep at your normal time for no other identifiable reason, one of the causes could be poor liver health. Even if you do sleep, it would not be a sound one and you would wake up in the morning feeling tired.
- Lethargy never leaves you: Were you the one always up and about? But of late, you have this lingering feeling of tiredness all the time, even when you don’t do significantly much. If your answer is yes, decipher this as an early sign of liver damage. As per one of the studies published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, changes in neurotransmission may occur within the brain due to a weak liver, which may be responsible for chronic fatigue.
- Itchiness: When the skin becomes dry, itchiness becomes a common problem that is not worrisome in itself. But another reason for itchy skin can be the destruction of bile ducts in the liver. Damage of bile ducts does not as such have any prominent noticeable symptom except that the skin starts itching. Cirrhosis of the liver also has itching as a symptom. Hence, if you are experiencing itching regularly, it is better to get yourself checked up and rule out the possibility of liver damage.
- Pale yellow skin and/or eyes: Discoloration or yellowing of skin is a definite indication of liver damage. When eyes also start appearing yellow, it is considered a clear case of jaundice. In fact, pale yellow skin is an early symptom of many liver diseases like cirrhosis and Hepatitis B.
- Sudden change in weight: So, don’t take a sudden shift on the weighing scale lightly! The change in weight could be a sign of cirrhosis, a disorder where healthy liver tissues are replaced with scar tissues blocking the flow of blood through the organ. Additionally, the unexplained loss of weight could also point towards Hepatitis C.
- Swelling of Legs and Ankles: Though the common reason for swelling of legs and ankles is fluid retention and kidney issues, liver damage cannot be sidelined. In many cases, the swelling in the legs and ankles has been linked to issues in the liver.
- Palms turn Red: Have you heard of non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) disorder? It is a condition where too much fat is stored in liver cells, especially of an individual who never drinks! This disease has become pretty common in the western world, affecting almost one-fourth of the population of the United States. One of the symptoms of NAFL is red palms. So if you have, of late, noticed your palms red, it is best to visit your doctor.
- Bloating: Feeling bloated too frequently? Without a heavy meal? It is a good idea to rule out ascites, that is, a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Abdomen swelling is one of the early signs of some kind of damage to the liver; it is wise to not let it go unnoticed.
- Breasts become enlarged: In the case of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, enlargement of breasts in men may be experienced. For all preventive reasons, one must treat it as an early sign of liver damage.
- Bruised all the time: Unless you know the exact reason why you are bruised, it may be a sign of liver dysfunction. If marks keep appearing out of nowhere, you should get your liver checked up.
Now that you know how important liver health is, surely you would like to know the ways through which liver health can be enhanced. We bring you, in this article, the tips that will strengthen your liver.
- Avoid Alcohol: No points for guessing this! This is the first and foremost change that you should bring about in yourself. Limit your alcohol intake, or even better, stop it altogether. Trust this! Your liver will be eternally grateful to you. If you are unable to quit it completely, drink in moderation. One drink per day for a woman and up to 2 drinks per day for a man is considered moderate. Try to stick to these limits. Don’t go overboard if you love your liver.
- Healthy Diet: Eating healthily and mindfully will solve half of the problems of your body. And the liver is no exception. Eat a diet that is rich in protein, whole grains, pulses, etc. Most importantly, eat fresh food. It makes the task of the liver much simpler. Limit your cakes and cookies, carbonated drinks, refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. They are not good for your liver as well as other organs of the body.
- Keep an eye on your weight: Do you drink alcohol? Are you overweight? Is your answer to both the questions a yes? Then you may be at the risk of developing alcohol related liver disease. Exercise is extremely important in such cases. It not only reduces liver fat but also curbs anxiousness and de-stresses the body.
- Regular liver detox: In the times we live, we are unknowingly exposed to various toxic, microbial, metabolic and carcinogenic substances which are extremely harmful to our bodies. Therefore, it becomes imperative that the liver be cleansed. How to do that? Certain fruits, vegetables and herbs like garlic, apples, green leafy vegetables, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. are natural cleansers. Including them in your daily diet fixes the liver naturally. Also, using turmeric in food goes a long way in strengthening the liver.
- Get Jabbed: It is a good idea to get vaccinated against the two types of liver viral infections – Hepatitis A and B. You can contract Hepatitis A through contaminated food and water. Always check the source of water before drinking. Avoid raw seafood, especially shellfish. Hepatitis B can occur through contaminated blood, needles, sexual contact, etc. If you have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis B, practice safe sex. Although it is recommended to get jabbed for these infections, you can always speak to your physician about them.
- Be careful with certain medications: Certain medicines can wreak havoc on the liver when taken in excess or beyond the recommended dose. Painkillers containing Tylenol can cause damage to the liver when taken often. It is commonly found in most cold medicines and prescribed painkillers. Try to avoid these as much as possible. Cholesterol drugs can also have a side effect on the liver.
The liver is the most under-estimated and overlooked organ. But remember, it also has its limit of tolerance. Let’s better not test it!