Liver Dysfunction: Common Symptoms

You may have liver dysfunction if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

Abnormal metabolism of fats When the liver is not able to function correctly, there is a series of metabolic disturbances:

  • Bad LDL cholesterol goes up.
  • Good HDL cholesterol goes down.
  • Triglycerides (blood fats) go up.

The abnormal regulation of fats leads to problems with weight gain, inability to lose weight, a sluggish metabolism, abnormal accumulation of fat in other areas (such as cellulite, and fatty liver). More extreme symptoms include atherosclerosis (build up of cholesterol along artery walls that create artery blockages), heart attack, and stroke.

Digestive problems – Since the liver produces bile, abnormalities in bile production can lead to gallstones, intolerance to fatty foods and alcohol, abdominal bloating, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and stomach pain.

Nutrient malabsorption
When the liver is functionally sub-optimally, it cannot convert nutrients to their bio-available forms. Therefore, many nutrients pass through the body without being absorbed. To help ease the burden on the liver, make sure that you choose supplements that contain active forms. Many supplements on the market contain non-active forms of vitamins that inevitably pass through the body instead of being absorbed.

Blood sugar problems – Since the liver is a key regulator of insulin, glucose, and glycogen, a dysfunctional liver can lead to unstable blood sugar levels, the precursor for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Neurological effects
When food is not metabolized efficiently due to a dysfunctional liver, the brain does not receive the proper nutrients it needs to function correctly. As a result, the brain is deprived of key nutrients. Symptoms include “brain fog,” depression, lack of anger control, poor concentration, and poor memory.

Weakened immune system – The liver helps the body fight off infections. When the liver is overtaxed, the immune system cannot efficiently handle the toxic load. Symptoms include allergies, food intolerances and chemical sensitivities, skin rashes and inflammations, and increased risk of autoimmune diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Hormonal imbalances –
Since the liver is a key regulator of hormones, a dysfunctional liver can result in abnormal levels of estrogen and testosterone (male/female hormones). Symptoms may include severe menopause and PMS symptoms for women. In both men and women, abnormal male and female hormone levels can dramatically increase the risk of heart attack. Also, failure of the liver to regulate thyroid hormones and insulin results in hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

Other symptoms – Include bad breath, skin rashes, itchy skin (pruritus), offensive body odor, dark circles under the eyes, yellow discoloration of the eyes, red swollen itchy eyes (allergic eyes), acne rosacea, brownish spots on the skin (liver spots), red palms and soles which may also be itchy and inflamed, flushed facial appearance.1

The following tests and procedures may help you find out if you have liver dysfunction:

  • Blood tests –Initial blood tests can help diagnose inadequate liver function. These include:
    • Bilirubin count Bilirubin is a waste product that forms when red blood cells die and hemoglobin is broken down. This waste product is carried to the liver by binding to albumin. The liver converts bilirubin to a water-soluble form so it can be excreted by the body through urine and feces. If too much hemoglobin is broken down, or if bilirubin cannot be effectively eliminated by the body, the excess amounts in the blood will cause the skin to turn yellow (known as jaundice).
    • Liver enzyme count Liver enzymes are proteins that help speed up chemical reactions in the liver. These enzymes are normally found in liver cells. However, when liver cells are damaged, the enzymes leak out of these cells and make their way to the blood. Therefore, high liver enzymes in the blood may be a sign of liver damage.
  • Liver biopsy – A small sample of liver tissue is extracted surgically and examined under a microscope to assess liver tissue damage.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan – A CT scan creates a very sensitive, three-dimensional picture of your liver. A small amount of radioactive dye is injected, and a camera shows how the dye is taken up by the liver.
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – An endoscope (a lighted tube) is inserted through the stomach to reveal potential blockages of bile ducts.2
  • Online Self-assessments – Self-assessments, such as the Candidiasis Self-assessment and the Magnesium Assessment, can help you determine some of the root cause(s) of your chronic conditions. Learn more about Self-assessments.

Additional Information about Liver Dysfunction

  1. Liver Dysfunction Overview
  2. Common causes of liver dysfunction
  3. Help me choose a natural and alternative treatment for liver dysfunction
  4. Dietary and lifestyle recommendations that may help in the treatment of liver dysfunction
  5. Conventional or prescription medications used in the treatment of liver dysfunction
  6. Additional reading for liver dysfunction

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