How To Recognize Liver Problems In 3 Simple Steps
Liver disease is an umbrella term given for several problems of the liver. The starting point of liver problems is inflammation or enlargement of the liver. When one does not pay attention to their health at the inflammation stage, it leads to severe liver problems in the future. Read further to know how to recognize liver problems in easy steps.
How To Recognize Liver Problems?
How exactly do you know if you have problems in your liver or if your liver is doing its work efficiently? Here are the 3 ways in which you can tell your liver function is bad:
1. Pay attention to your lifestyle:
Several reasons lead to liver problems, and many of them occur due to genes and pre-existing health problems. However, alcohol consumption, smoking, body weight and lack of physical activity are factors that one can modify.
Unhealthy lifestyle habits where a person indulges in taking alcohol, smoking, etc., heavily contribute to the liver's inflammation that progresses to liver failure. Excessive drinking of alcohol, tobacco and lack of exercise fatty deposits on the liver leads to further complications.
Fatty liver is the starting point of liver inflammation. The liver weighs about 5 to 10% more than its average weight in this stage. When fatty deposits on the liver are left untreated, it ultimately results in inflammation.
Studies support that an unhealthy lifestyle causes abnormality in the liver function test and cholesterol status in people who are not diagnosed with health issues. Adopting a healthy lifestyle at the age of 50 can bring significant changes in a person's health.
2. Pay attention to your symptoms:
While it is true that many people do not experience symptoms of liver disease until it is too late, and there are many types of liver diseases, some liver disorder symptoms are common. Frequently occurring symptoms irrespective of the type of liver problem is highlighted below:
- Jaundice: Jaundice is a symptom characterized by yellowing of the skin, dark urine, itchy skin and yellow eyes. This is often the first or only sign of liver disease, and it is a result of abnormally high levels of bile pigment in the blood.
- Ascites: Ascites refers to the fluid build-up in the abdominal cavity. It occurs due to fluid leakage from the liver and intestine. Other symptoms that accompany include discomfort and breathlessness. This symptom is a typical case of liver cirrhosis, obstruction of the liver vein and inflammation due to excessive alcohol consumption.
- Tiredness: Although tiredness is not specific to liver disease, it is one of the most common and recurring symptoms of liver problems. It becomes more prominent once the disease progresses to the advanced stage.
- Problems in digestion: Since the liver plays a major role in processing what you eat and drink, an abnormality in this vital organ can cause problems with digestion. Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, swelling and loss of appetite indicate that your liver is not working to its full potential.
- Bleeding and bruising: The liver synthesizes proteins, vitamin K and other substances to help blood clotting. When there is a disturbance in the liver, it becomes difficult to control bleeding. Hence, a person experiences symptoms like blood vomiting and bruising.
3. How to recognize liver problems using diagnostic tests?
While you can do the first two parts of how to recognize liver problems by yourself, you need a physician to make the official diagnosis. Before diagnosing liver disease, your physician will observe your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. Your physician might need your liver biopsy, liver function test, ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI reports to confirm your diagnosis.
Blood Tests To Recognize Liver Problems
- Liver function test: Liver function tests include a set of blood tests to assess the abnormality of the liver. These tests do not require special preparation like fasting. Your physician might need your blood samples to assess the bilirubin, GGT and ALT levels in your body.
- Bilirubin test: Bilirubin is a by-product of red blood cells, and high levels indicate an increased breakdown of blood cells, Gilbert syndrome and impaired secretion into the bile (hepatobiliary disease).
- Gamma-glutamyltransferase (CGT) test: GGT is an enzyme that is widely distributed in body tissues, including the liver. Measuring the activity of this enzyme provides a sensitive indicator of liver damage. Tell your physician if you have consumed alcohol or taken medication for seizure. Alcohol, seizure medicines and bile obstruction tend to increase GGT levels in the body.
- Alanine aminotransferase test: Alanine aminotransferase is often combined with another test called aspartate aminotransferase. High levels of these enzymes in the blood indicate that your liver cells have undergone some injury.
Imaging Tests To Recognize Liver Problems
- CT scan: CT Scan provides a clear image of the liver and its blood vessels. This imaging test is beneficial for detecting pus, tumours and fatty deposits on the liver.
- MRI: This imaging test can detect liver problems such as inflammation, cancer and fatty deposits. It detects how the blood is flowing through the blood vessels.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound uses sound waves to give images of the liver and its surrounding organs. It helps to check the abnormality in the structure of the liver. Fatty liver, cirrhosis and liver cancer are some of the liver problems that show abnormalities in liver structure. It is the most economical and safe technique. Using ultrasound, your physician can tell whether your jaundice is due to a problem in the liver cells or obstruction in the bile duct.