How do you know if you have an unhealthy liver? Some liver problems have immediate symptoms and others take many years to develop. For instance, if you drink alcohol heavily, it can take twenty to forty years to develop cirrhosis of the liver. After diagnosis of the problem, you may recognize that you have had symptoms of an unhealthy liver for many years.
In order to understand an unhealthy liver, you need to know a little about how a healthy liver functions. The liver can perform up to five hundred different functions. It has many jobs to do, including detoxification, cleansing the body of harmful substances, breaking down sugar and fat, storing iron, getting rid of bacteria, and eliminating drugs and poisons from the body.
The liver controls such important processes as the clotting of blood, and helps to maintain the immune system which battles for our survival. Everything we take in into our body, whether by eating or breathing, is eventually processed by the liver. The liver produces enzymes which are necessary for life and controls many metabolic processes.
An unhealthy liver can eventually lead to liver disease. Liver disease is a major cause of death. In the United States, it is one of the top ten causes of death. You can have liver disease for many years and be unaware of it. Liver cancer, hepatitis B and C are all common types of liver disease.
Because you can prevent many kinds of liver disease, you should learn how to take good care of your liver. You should also learn the symptoms of an unhealthy liver so that you can get early diagnosis if problems develop. Symptoms include yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice), swelling and pain in the abdomen, fatigue, no appetite, itchy skin, nausea, distended abdomen and dark urine.
Other symptoms include stools which are either pale or the color of tar. There can also be bloody stools. Sometimes a condition called cholestasis develops. This means that the bile which flows through the liver has been blocked. There can be many causes for this type of unhealthy liver. These include alcoholic liver disease, drugs, hepatitis, cancer, a stone blocking a bile duct, or the hormone changes which come with pregnancy.
An unhealthy liver can also have a symptom known as ascites. This is when there is a large build-up of fluid in the liver. It generally causes a distended abdomen and shortness of breath. It can be caused by cirrhosis of liver and various types of hepatitis, among other ailments.
Unhealthy liver symptoms can be caused by a variety of additional diseases and conditions. These can include, among others, hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, alpha-1-antityptan deficiency, obstruction of bile ducts, cirrhosis (scar tissue), cysts, cancer, parasites, fatty liver disease, portal vein thrombosis, Gilbert syndrome, and alcoholism.
Sometimes treatment of an unhealthy liver means taking medications and at other times it requires surgery. Sometimes the only treatment for liver failure is a liver transplant. This can happen to young and old alike.
The biggest change you can make to turn an unhealthy liver into a healthy one is to stop drinking alcohol and start eating a healthy diet. This means eating lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Exercising and getting needed vitamins and minerals can also aid liver health. Try to limit your fat intake as fats are hard for the liver to process.
An unhealthy liver can lead to death. But you can also choose to change your lifestyle to a healthier one. This can slow and even sometimes reverse liver damage.
Copyright © 2006 Liver Facts.