Table of contents:
- Online test for liver problems
- Who is most at risk for liver problems
- How to confirm the diagnosis
- How the treatment is done
The first symptoms of liver problems are usually right-sided abdominal pain and bloated belly, however, they can vary according to the type of problem, which can be from fatty liver to excessive drinking alcohol or diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis or schistosomiasis, for example.
The main signs and symptoms that may indicate a liver problem include:
- Pain in the upper right region of the belly;
- Feeling sick or dizzy frequently;
- Recurrent headache;
- Easy fatigue for no apparent reason;
- Easy to get purple spots;
- Yellowish eye or skin color;
- Dark urine;
- Loss of appetite;
- Yellow, gray or whitish stools;
- Swollen belly;
- Itching all over the body.
If any of these symptoms appear, it is important to consult a general practitioner or a hepatologist to identify the cause and initiate the most appropriate treatment.
Online test for liver problems
To know if you may have a liver problem, check what you are feeling:
- 1.Do you feel pain or discomfort in the upper right part of your belly? Yes No
- 2.Are you feeling sick or dizzy frequently? Yes No
- 3.Do you have frequent headaches? Yes No
- 4.Do you feel tired more easily? Yes No
- 5.Do you have multiple purple spots on your skin? Yes No
- 6.Are your eyes or skin yellow? Yes No
- 7.Is your urine dark? Yes No
- 8.Have you been feeling a lack of appetite? Yes No
- 9.Is your stool yellow, gray or white? Yes No
- 10.Do you feel like your belly is bloated? Yes No
- 11.Do you feel itchy all over your body? Yes No
Make an appointment with a specialist
The main problems that can affect the liver include:
1. Fatty liver
Fat liver, known scientifically as hepatic steatosis, is caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver, which usually occurs due to poor diet, excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, or diseases such as obesity, diabetes or high cholesterol.
Generally, in the early stages, fatty liver causes no symptoms, however as the fat accumulates in the liver, it can cause symptoms such as pain in the abdomen, weight loss, tiredness and general malaise, with nausea and vomiting, for example. Treatment includes dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and/or treatment of disease that may have caused the liver to accumulate fat. See how the diet for fatty liver should be done.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that can be caused by infection with the hepatitis A, B, C, D or E virus, but is also common in people who abuse alcohol, drugs or abuse drugs. In addition, some autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune hepatitis or primary cholangitis, for example, and obesity can also increase the risk of developing hepatitis.
The most common symptoms of hepatitis are yellowing of the skin or eyes, and treatment is based on the cause of the disease. Learn more about the different types of hepatitis and how they are treated.
Cirrhosis occurs due to the permanent destruction of liver cells, causing these cells to be replaced by fibrous tissue, as if it were a scar, making it difficult for the liver to work.
This disease can be caused by toxins, alcohol abuse, fatty liver or hepatitis, for example, and in the early stages it may not have symptoms. However, in more advanced cases it can cause pain in the abdomen, dark urine or whitish stools, for example. Check out other symptoms of cirrhosis and how to treat it.
4. Liver failure
Liver failure is the most serious disease of the liver, as it fails to perform its functions and can lead to a series of complications such as clotting problems, brain edema, lung infection or kidney failure.
This disease usually arises after many years of repeated damage to the liver, caused by drug use, hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver, cancer or autoimmune diseases and its treatment is almost always done with liver transplantation.Learn about liver transplantation.
5. Liver cancer
Liver cancer is a type of malignant tumor that, when it is in an early stage, may not show symptoms, but as the disease progresses, symptoms such as pain in the abdomen, weight loss, swelling in the belly or yellow skin and eyes, for example, and treatment can be done with surgery, chemotherapy or liver transplantation. Learn how to identify the symptoms of liver cancer.
This type of cancer can be caused by a family history of liver cancer, alcoholism, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or chemicals such as vinyl chloride or arsenic.
Who is most at risk for liver problems
Changes in the liver are more common in sedentary people who have unhe althy lifestyle habits, such as high-fat diets and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, for example, which can compromise the proper functioning of the liver and lead to to the appearance of symptoms.
Also, other situations that can cause liver problems are:
- Use of medication without medical indication, which can lead to liver overload and compromise its function, since the liver is responsible for metabolizing drugs;
- Virus infections, mainly the hepatitis virus, which affects the liver and reduces its activity;
- Infection by parasite, primarily the parasite Schistosoma mansoni, which is responsible for schistosomiasis, an infectious disease in which younger forms of the parasite reach the portal circulation of the liver and develop if until adulthood, which can cause enlargement and hardening of the liver;
- Portal hypertension, which is a situation in which there is increased pressure in the veins that carry blood from the abdominal organs to the liver, which can alter its functioning;
- Cirrhosis, which is the chronic inflammation of the liver in which there is hardening of the tissue of this organ, which compromises its function, and can happen due to autoimmune problems and abuse of alcohol;
- Decompensated diabetes, where increased blood glucose levels can compromise liver function and lead to symptoms.
It is important that the cause of the symptoms of liver problems is identified, so that the most appropriate treatment can be indicated by the doctor, preventing possible complications. Learn about other causes of liver problems.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of liver problems is initially made through the evaluation of signs and symptoms by the doctor, who then requests a series of tests to evaluate the functioning of the liver, which is called a hepatogram.
The hepatogram corresponds to a set of laboratory and imaging tests that make it possible to know if the liver is working or not. Among the tests included are the measurement of total, direct and indirect bilirubin, albumin, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT), TGO/ALT, TGP/AST and prothrombin time, in addition to ultrasound and tomography.Learn more about tests that evaluate the liver.
How the treatment is done
The treatment indicated by the doctor varies according to the disease to be treated, however in milder cases only a change in diet may be recommended. On the other hand, in the most serious cases, in addition to changing the diet, it may also be necessary to take drugs that help reduce inflammation, cholesterol and blood glucose, which are factors that can bring even more complications to the liver.
In addition, you should talk to your doctor and find out if you can complement the treatment with home remedies, such as those made with boldo, lettuce or lavender.
Food to treat the liver
In case of liver problems, it is recommended to drink at least 1.5 L of water a day and consume foods that are easily digested and low in fat, such as fish, white meats, fruits, vegetables, natural juices, white cheeses and skimmed milk and dairy products.
In addition, you should prefer cooked, roasted or grilled preparations, avoiding fried foods, soft drinks, stuffed cookies, butter, red meat, sausage, sausage, bacon, chocolate and sweets in general, and it is also important to avoid consumption of any type of alcoholic beverages. See how the liver diet should be done.
The gastroenterologist is the specialist physician most indicated for the treatment of liver diseases, and he should be consulted if symptoms persist, even after dietary changes.