The liver is one of the body’s most crucial organs, responsible for detoxifying the blood, metabolizing macronutrients and producing chemicals that enable essential body processes. And during this pandemic, many of us aren’t handling it well: “While no national figures are available, admissions for alcoholic liver disease at the University of Southern California’s Keck Hospital were up 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, said Dr. Brian Lee, a transplant hepatologist who treats the condition in alcoholics,” reports Kaiser Health News. “There has been a huge influx,” Dr. Haripriya Maddur, a hepatologist at Northwestern Medicine, at the website. Read on to see the number 1 danger sign-and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss this one Certain Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
If your liver is not functioning properly, it can cause serious, even fatal, health problems. So how does your liver let your body know it’s in bad shape? According to the Cleveland Clinic, fluid retention is the most common symptom of liver disease. It is experienced by about 50% of people with cirrhosis, the most severe form of liver disease, when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. Fluid retention can manifest as swelling in your legs or as a distended abdomen.
It is caused when the liver is no longer able to produce albumin, a protein that prevents fluid from leaking out of blood vessels and into tissue. Other symptoms of liver disease include:
Jaundice, also known as yellowing of the eyes or skin. This is caused when the liver is no longer able to process bilirubin, a natural chemical produced by red blood cells; instead, it accumulates in the eyes or skin. This is a sign of more serious liver disease, indicating liver failure.
Bleeding, caused when scar tissue in the liver stops it from processing as much blood as it used to. The blood is then diverted to places such as the esophagus and digestive tract. You may vomit blood or it may show up in your stool.
Pale stools, which may indicate that the liver is having difficulty processing bile.
Itchy skin, caused by extra bile salts collecting under the skin.
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Dark urine, caused by excess bilirubin being excreted through the kidneys. If you have symptoms of liver disease, contact your healthcare provider right away.
Cirrhosis can be slowed but not reversed, so it’s important to prevent your liver from reaching that deteriorated state.
To keep your liver healthy, you need to exercise regularly (at least five times a week for 30 minutes a day); maintain a healthy diet and weight; drink alcohol in moderation (ie no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks for men); get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B if your doctor recommends it; and take medications carefully (take them as directed and do not mix them with alcohol). And to get through this pandemic as healthy as possible, don’t miss this one 35 places you are most likely to get COVID.