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Sure Signs You May Have Liver Damage, According to a Doctor 

Watch out for these symptoms, says a specialist who knows.

According to the Global Liver Institute, there are over 100 types of liver disease. And, while many people associate these conditions with excessive alcohol use, the majority of those who suffer from liver damage aren't even drinkers. "Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) and it's more severe form non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most common liver disease worldwide," Stephen A. Harrison, MD, explains to Eat This, Not That! Health. "It is important to recognize risk factors for this disease early and seek medical advice if you have these risk factors or show signs that suggest underlying liver disease." Read on to learn about the most common signs and associated conditions of NAFLD and NASH—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


You May Have Diabetes Mellitus


Diabetes Mellitus, aka sugar diabetes, is a health condition commonly associated with liver disease, per Dr. Harrison. The body's inability to control blood sugar can result in too much sugar in the blood. 


You May Have Obesity

Doctor measuring obese man waist body fat.

Obesity or being overweight is another common characteristic of an individual suffering liver damage. According to the CDC, over 42 percent of Americans are considered obese, meaning their BMI (body mass index) is over 30. 


You May Have Hypertension

Nurse is taking blood pressure in the pharmacy

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, implies that the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease, per the Mayo Clinic. According to Dr. Harrison, it is one of the three main conditions associated with liver disease. 


You May Have Acanthosis Nigricans

Woman checks the thyroid gland with her hands, keeps her palms on the neck.

Liver disease often clinically manifests itself in a variety of skin conditions. One of them is acanthosis nigricans, which Dr. Harrison describes as "browning of the skin around the neck."


You May Have Spider Telangiectasias

man pulling down eyelid checking his eye looking in mirrow feels unwell has black circles

Another skin symptom to look for, per Dr. Harrison? Spider telangiectasias, which presents itself as "new red lines on the face and neck."


You May Have Jaundicing of the Skin

Jaundice patient with yellowish discoloration of skin in comparison with Normal Skin color.

Dr. Harrison maintains that as liver disease progresses, "you may develop a yellowing of the skin called jaundice."

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You May Have Swelling in the Abdomen

Young sick woman with hands holding pressing her crotch lower abdomen.

Another sign that liver disease has progressed is "increased abdominal girth and/or lower extremity swelling," according to Dr. Harrison. 


You May Have Mental Issues

Melancholy woman resting at the terrace

Liver disease can manifest itself in mind as well. In addition to physical symptoms, "you may experience increasing forgetfulness or mental status changes," says Dr. Harrison. 

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What to Do If You Experience These Symptoms

Doctor Checking High Blood Pressure In Face Mask

"If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms please seek medical assistance immediately," instructs Dr. Harrison. Any of them can be cirrhosis related to NAFLD/NASH. "Lab work may show a low platelet count or a low serum albumin, elevated total bilirubin or abnormal blood clotting time," he explains. 

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More About Liver Disease From the Experts

doctors appointment physician shows to patient shape of liver with focus on hand with organ

To learn more about liver disease, you can contact the Global Liver Institute, whose mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families impacted by liver disease through promoting innovation, encouraging collaboration, and supporting the scaling of optimal approaches to help eradicate liver diseases. Their latest development is the U.S. NASH Action plan, a comprehensive guide to address nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the advanced form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and its impact on patients and families, public health, and the economy. They also host International NASH Day, coming up June 10, 2021. As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah