Liver Disease: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Liver disease is a compound health issue that affects many people worldwide. So in this article, we’ll discuss how doctors recognize liver problems, the common signs and symptoms to look out for and the various approaches used to help particular with liver disease. For more research you can also visit the National Institutes of Health.

What is Liver Disease?

So let’s start with what liver disease is all about. The liver is a vital organ in charge of a wide range of important functions, such as cleaning toxins from the blood, aiding digestion, and producing essential proteins. Liver disease surrounds various conditions that affect the liver’s structure and function. Because these conditions can range from mild to severe and some can pose-life threatening risks.

What are the Symptoms of Liver Disease?

Cirrhosis is the consequence of long-term, continuous damage to the liver and may be due to many different causes. Because the damage leads to scarring, known as fibrosis. So, uneven bumps (nodules) replace the smooth liver tissue and the liver becomes harder. Together, the scarring and the nodules are called cirrhosis. If you have cirrhosis you may develop one more of the symptoms below. If you have or are worried about any of these symptoms, talk over them with your doctor.

Cirrhosis Symptoms:

Cirrhosis symptoms when the liver becomes permanently damaged, often due to conditions like hepatitis or alcohol related liver disease. It can several early symptoms including:

  • Discomfort or pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Poor appetite
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea

As the condition progresses, symptoms can become more severe. Additional, symptoms may include:

  • Jaundice
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Reasonable impairment
  • Severe itching
  • Swelling in the lower legs, ankles, or feet
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Dark urine

Hepatitis Symptoms:

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the most common types of viral hepatitis are A, B, and C. Additionally, hepatitis can also be caused by medications, toxins, and heavy alcohol use. So, the symptoms of chronic hepatitis may take decades to appear. Some common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Light colored stools
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Darn urine
  • Joint pain

Fatty Liver Disease Symptoms:

Fatty liver disease occurs when fat accumulates in the liver, leading to potential damage and impairment of liver function over time. Like other liver conditions, fatty liver disease may not show any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Weakness
  • Persistent itchiness
  • Severe fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Jaundice
  • Spider Web like blood vessels on the skin

Genetics Condition Symptoms:

So there are numerous types of genetic liver disease, and many are not widely recognized. According to the American Liver Foundation, two of the most common genetic liver diseases are alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and Alagille syndrome. Symptoms of these conditions vary but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Poor appetite
  • Abnormal liver test results
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Pale, loose stools
  • Poor growth rate in the first 3 months of life
  • Itchy skin

Autoimmune Symptoms:

There are several types of autoimmune liver disease, with one of the most common being autoimmune hepatitis. Individuals with this condition may experience symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice

Cancer Symptoms:

Liver cancer shares several symptoms with other liver diseases. It’s crucial for individuals to consult with their doctor promptly upon noticing these symptoms as early diagnosis can enhance the chances of successful treatment. Common symptoms of liver cancer include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Feeling full after a small meal or snack
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Itching
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • Jaundice

Liver Failure Symptoms:

Liver failure occurs when the liver slows, its normal functioning posing a life-threatening condition requiring instant care. Symptoms can initially be mild and soar in severity as the condition worsen. So common symptoms are include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

As the condition progress, symptoms may worsen and include:

  • Confusion or surprise
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Coma

Early symptoms:

  • Generally feeling ill and tired all the time loss of appetite
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss and muscle wasting
  • Feeling poorly nausea and vomiting
  • Tenderness/ pain in the liver area
  • Spider-like small blood capillaries on the skin above waist level.
  • Blotchy red palms
  • Intermittent the sleep patterns

Latter symptoms:

  • Hard itchy skin
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin (jaundice)
  • White nails
  • End of fingers become wider/thicker
  • Hairs loss
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, feet
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Dark urine
  • Pale-colored stools or very dark/black tarry stools
  • Frequent nosebleeds and bleeding gums
  • Easy bruising and difficulty in stopping small bleeds
  • Vomiting bloods
  • Frequent muscle cramps
  • Right shoulder pain
  • In men  enlarged breasts and shrunken testes
  • In women irregular or lack of menstrual periods
  • Impotence and loss of sexual desire
  • Dizziness and extreme fatigue (anemia)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Very rapid heartbeat
  • Fever with high temperature and shivers
  • Forgetfulness, memory loss, confusion and drowsiness
  • Subtle change in personality
  • Trembling hands
  • Writing becomes difficult, spidery and small
  • Staggering gait when walking
  • Increased sensitivity to drugs both medical and recreational
  • Increased sensitivity to alcohol

Red Flag Symptoms:

  • If you have any of the following symptoms you must see a doctor straight away, especially if you have recently been diagnosed with cirrhosis;
  • Fever with high temperature and shivers, often caused by an infection
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting blood
  • Very dark or black tarry stools
  • Periods of mental confusion or drowsiness

What are the Causes of Liver Disease?

Liver disease has many causes.


Parasites and viruses can infect the liver, leading to swelling and irritation known as inflammation. Inflammation prevents the liver from functioning properly. Viruses that cause liver damage can spread through blood or semen, contaminated food or water, or close contact with an infected person. The most common type of live disease infections are caused by hepatitis viruses, including:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Immune System Condition:

Diseases where the immune system attacks specific parts of the body are called autoimmune diseases. So autoimmune liver disease include:

  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Primary biliary cholangitis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis


A mutated gene from one or both parents can cause substances to accumulate in the liver, leading to liver damage. So genetic liver disease include:

  • Hemochromatosis
  • Wilson’s disease
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency

Cancer and Other Growth:

So examples include:

  • Liver cancer
  • Bile duct cancer
  • Liver adenoma


So other common cause of liver disease include:

  • Long-term alcohol use
  • Fat buildup in the liver, known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or metabolic-associated steatotic liver disease
  • Certain prescription or other medications
  • Certain herbal supplements
  • Frequent exposure to toxic chemicals

What are the Risk Factors of Liver Disease?

So, there are several potential risk factors for developing liver disease. According to American Liver Foundation, some of these factors include:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption which increases the risk of cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Living with diabetes.
  • Cholesterol.
  • Having a history of liver disease such as hepatitis B, or C, both of which increase the risk of liver cancer.
  • Obesity.
  • Harmful supplements.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as household cleaning products or fertilizers or pesticides on fruits and vegetables.

What is the Diagnosis of Liver Disease?

The first step in successfully managing liver disease is a proper diagnosis. Healthcare professionals use several methods to know what’s happening with the liver:

Talking and Checking:

Doctors begin by talking with the patient about their health history and manage a physical examination. Because they look for physical signs like jaundice, yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal discomfort, or swelling.

Blood Tests:

Blood tests are the ordinary tool to assess liver function. So these tests measure specific material in the blood, such as enzymes and proteins, to gauge the liver’s health and detect any damage of dysfunction.

Imaging Techniques:

The latest medical imaging methods, including ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs, provide detailed images of the liver. So these images help identify systemic abnormalities or irregularities.

Liver Biopsy:

So in certain cases, a liver biopsy is necessary. This involves taking a small sample of liver tissue for close examination under a microscope. It helps determine the condition of the liver and the specific liver disease.

What is the Treatment of Liver Disease?

Treatment of liver disease varies depending on the diagnosis. Some liver problems can be managed with lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or abstaining from alcohol consumption. So, these changes are often incorporated into a medical program that includes monitoring liver function. Other liver problems may require treatment with medications or surgical interventions. In cases where liver disease progresses to liver failure, a liver transplant may be necessary. The treatment approach for liver disease is determined by the specific diagnosis and the extent of liver damage. So here are some common treatment methods.

Lifestyle Modifications:

So lifestyle changes are crucial for liver diseases related to elements like excessive alcohol consumption or obesity. Because these changes may incorporate stopping alcohol intake, adopting a healthier diet, and engaging in well-organized physical activity.


Some liver diseases can be managed with medications. These drugs target the basic cause of the disease or help alleviate symptoms. For example, antiviral medications are used to treat hepatitis B and C.

Liver Transplant:

So, in acute cases of liver disease a liver transplant may be recommended. During the move the damaged liver is put back with a healthy liver from a donor.

Management of Complications:

Liver disease can lead to various hurdles, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. And managing these hurdles is an essential part of a treatment.

What is the Prevention of Liver Disease?

Drink alcohol in moderation:

Maximum the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.

Get Vaccinated:

If you’re at increased risk of contracting hepatitis or if you’ve already been infected with any form of the hepatitis virus, talk to your doctor about getting the hepatitis B vaccine. A vaccine is also available for hepatitis A.

Chose a Health Diet:

So, choose a plant-based diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Because I limit high-fat foods.

Maintain a Healthy Weight:

So obesity can cause a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which may include fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Different Tests for Liver Disease:

So, here are some common tests used to check for liver disease:

  • Serum bilirubin test
  • Serum albumin test
  • Serum alkaline phosphatase test
  • Serum aminotransferases test
  • Prothrombin time test
  • Alanine transaminase test
  • Aspartate transaminase test
  • Gamma glutamyl transpeptidase test
  • Lactic dehydrogenase test
  • Nucleotides test
  • Alpha-fetoprotein test
  • Mitochondrial antibodies test


What is the global burden of liver disease?

So the worldwide deaths from all causes attributed to NAFLD increased from 0.10% to 0.17%. NFLAD represents the second-leading cause of liver transplantation and the leading cause among females.

What is the global prevalence of liver disease?

So, liver disease accounts for over 2 million deaths annually and accounts for 4% of all deaths worldwide. 1 out of 3 liver-related deaths take place among females. Within this estimate, liver cancer accounts for 600,000 to 900,000 deaths.

Which country has the most liver disease?

In 2010, Egypt followed by Moldova, had the highest age-standardized cirrhosis mortality rates, 72.7 and 71.2 deaths per 100,000 respectively while Iceland had the lowest. In Egypt, almost one-fifth (18.1%) of all deaths in males 45 to 54 years old were due to liver cirrhosis.

Is 90% of liver disease preventable?

However, more than 90% of liver disease is avoidable. The 3 major sources of liver disease in adults are alcohol-related liver disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome leading to non-alcohol-related liver disease and viral hepatitis.

Can a human live without 1 liver?

A person cannot survive without a liver, but the liver can regrow itself. In other words, people can live with part of a liver or a liver that is not functioning properly. The liver is a vital organ that synchronizes the waste products in the blood, eliminates toxins, and stores excess energy in the form of glycogen.

Is there an artificial liver?

Artificial liver systems are used to bridge between transplantation or to allow a patient’s liver to get better. So, they are used in patients with acute liver failure (ALF) and acute-on- chronic liver function.

Is mini liver a real thing?

The mini livers secrete severity acids and urea, just like a normal liver except they’re made to order in the lab using patient cells. And, although liver maturation takes up to two years in a natural environment.

Can a failed liver regenerate?

The liver has a unique capacity among organs to regenerate itself after damage. A liver can regrow to a normal size even after up to 90% of it has been removed. But the liver isn’t unbeatable. Many diseases and exposures can harm it beyond the point of repair. 

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