Liver Failure vs. Liver Disease: 

liver pain

How to heal your liver and when to seek professional help

Our livers are constantly on the job: they work around the clock to keep our bodies healthy and free of toxins. And just like adults that work 24/7, our livers can experience burnout. Excessive heavy drinking, unhealthy diets, and continual viral infections can cause it to be overworked. 

What’s the difference between liver failure and liver disease?

Liver disease refers to any condition that causes inflammation or damage to your liver. Liver disease can affect the overall function of your liver.

Liver failure is when your liver has lost some or all of its functionality. This can occur due to the damage that’s caused by liver disease.

Common causes of liver damage: 

Liver disease can be caused (sometimes indirectly) by infection, immune system abnormality, genetics, cancer, and chronic alcohol abuse. 

liver

Here are the risk factors that could increase damage to your liver: 

  • Heavy/excessive alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Family history of liver disease
  • Injecting drugs using shared needles
  • Blood transfusion before 1992
  • Exposure to other people’s blood and body fluids

Liver disease symptoms

The following are symptoms of liver disease: 

  • Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine color
  • Pale stool color
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tendency to bruise easily

Liver failure symptoms 

The following are symptoms of acute liver failure:

  • Yellowing of your skin and eyeballs (jaundice)
  • Pain in your upper right abdomen
  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A general sense of feeling unwell (malaise)
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Breath may have a musty or sweet odor
  • Tremors

The following are the early symptoms of chronic liver failure

  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Mild abdominal discomfort or pain

Some symptoms that can indicate the advanced stages of chronic liver failure include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Feeling confused or disoriented
  • Buildup of fluid in your abdomen, arms, or legs
  • Darkening of your urine
  • Severe skin itching

How to keep your liver happy & healthy 

liver

Over time, conditions that damage the liver can lead to scarring (cirrhosis), which can lead to liver failure, a life-threatening condition. But early treatment may give the liver time to heal. The following will help keep your liver healthy:

  1. Exercise. Medical professionals recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week. 
  2. Eat a healthy diet. It is best to replace those processed foods and high-sugar sweets with a healthy dose of fruits, veggies, and high-fiber foods. 
  3. Change your drinking habits. It is recommended for men to have no more than two drinks per day, and women no more than one drink per day. Another option is to consider taking part in Dry January.  
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that there is a connection between obesity and fatty liver disease. 

When to seek help

It is always best to seek help if any of your signs or symptoms worsen and are consistent. If you have severe abdominal pain, seek immediate medical help at Hospitality Health ER

For more tips and advice, follow along on our Hospitality Health ER blog. We’ve recently covered Signs Your Kids May Be Experiencing Anxiety and How to Prevent Parental Burnout.  For giveaways, updates, and COVID-19 tips, like us on Facebook and Instagram

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