The liver is the most important organ in the human body, behind the brain and the heart. It regulates metabolism, detoxifies the blood and the rest of the body, and forms compounds that form blood clots. It’s because the liver is responsible for so many functions that when it starts to decline, everything else follows it. Acute liver failure (ALF) is a condition that develops quickly, and can very suddenly send an otherwise healthy person into an ICU. It’s not common, and many of the symptoms mirror that of other diseases and conditions. That, combined with its rapid progression and high mortality rate, make it a red flag to watch out for. Some behaviors and medications can increase the likelihood of developing ALF, including Acetaminophen overdose (caused by taking more than the recommended dosage daily for several days), certain prescription medications, Hepatitis, Cancer, obesity, and alcoholism.
You may be familiar with the appearance of jaundice in the context of newborn babies, but it’s a symptom that manifests in adults as well. This is a common symptom of poor liver function, and results as a high level of bilirubin (bile pigment) in the bloodstream. This heightened level of bile pigment points to an inflammation of the liver cells. It’s not a coincidence that it’s at the top of this list. This symptom is often the only visual sign of liver disease, so if you notice someone’s skin taking on a yellow shade, seek medical attention immediately.
Pain and tenderness in the upper-abdominal area can be a symptom of liver failure. This is often accompanied with bloating because it’s caused by a build-up of fluid in the liver. Localized abdominal pain and tenderness should never be ignored, especially if the pain is severe enough that sitting still is difficult.
Liver failure can cause fatigue as a result of the bloodstream being overloaded with toxins. When there are too many toxins in the blood, the amount of oxygen it can carry is limited, which in turn reduces the nutrients our bodies need to produce energy. If you suddenly find yourself overly fatigued without any other factors that could cause it, pay close attention to your body — it’s probably trying to tell you something.
Loss of Appetite
When we are really sick, our body rejects food through severe appetite suppression. This is especially common in the case of major organ failure. If your appetite drops off, combined with any of these other symptoms, don’t ignore it. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. These symptoms are the most common signs of liver failure. To prevent falling victim to this condition, take care of yourself. Keep your drinking to a moderate level, get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B at Health Testing Centers, follow your doctor’s instructions about medication dosage, and watch your weight. Above all, knowing the symptoms and catching it before it’s too late are the keys for surviving liver failure. Keep these tips in mind and stay in tune with your body to prevent this fatal condition. (liver test / shutterstock)