If you have just been diagnosed with a problem with your liver, or you are experiencing symptoms which you may suspect are related to your liver, we are here to help. Below are some common questions we regularly receive, however please call our helpline on 08000 74 34 94 to speak to someone.
How would I know if I have the beginning of a liver problem – would I have any specific symptoms?
No, not necessarily. It might be that you think your liver is at risk of developing a ‘problem’ due to your lifestyle, or perhaps there is a familial predisposition, which in turn, is troubling you. For whatever reason you may think that your liver may not be functioning as well as it should be, you would be wise to discuss your concerns with your GP.
The liver itself, doesn’t have any nerve endings, but there is a sheath that surrounds the liver, that DOES have nerve endings. This sheath is called the Glisson’s capsule.
When the liver becomes inflamed, it outstretches the Glisson’s capsule, which then sends signals to the brain. It is then, that you will feel some pain or discomfort around the liver area. The liver will become inflamed for many reasons, such as:
An injury or trauma to the body
An infection (e.g. glandular fever, blood-borne viruses)
Lifestyle (e.g. alcohol consumption, fatty liver)
Quite often, people will suffer from 'referred pain', which means that a problem exists somewhere else in the body other than where you feel the pain.
Typically, pain in the right-hand shoulder blade could signify a gallstone problem.
If an acute liver problem arises, you may well experience some of the following symptoms:
Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
Abdominal pain and swelling
Swelling in the legs and ankles.
Dark coloured urine.
Pale stool colour, or bloody/tar-coloured stool.
Nausea or vomiting.
Loss of appetite.
However, with a chronic liver condition, you could also suffer from all of the above, and the likelihood of more serious symptoms too.
Currently, what are the main causes of actual liver disease?
Top of the list, is alcohol related, but following closely behind, is fatty liver disease, (which is becoming more common, especially among diabetics), and then the BBVs (blood-borne viruses) such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
How many liver conditions are there?
There are over 100 liver conditions – but generally speaking, the majority are either lifestyle related or hereditary.