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What are the first signs of liver problems?

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Quick Answer

Early signs of a liver condition include loss of appetite, fatigue, diarrhea or nausea, according to WebMD. More severe symptoms occur as the disease progresses, including jaundice, swollen abdomen, mental confusion or disorientation, bleeding easily, and coma. Early symptoms of liver failure are common to many conditions, making diagnosis difficult.

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Full Answer

Inflammation occurs in the early stages of liver disease, which may cause tenderness or enlargement of the liver, according to the American Liver Foundation. An inflamed liver may not be noticeable or cause any discomfort; however, if it is diagnosed during this stage, it may be treated effectively. If it is untreated, it may lead to fibrosis, a condition wherein scar tissue grows in place of healthy liver tissue. Scar tissue prevents proper blood flow through the liver, causing it to work harder.

If fibrosis progresses, it leads to cirrhosis, which is irreversible scarring and damage to the liver, explains the American Liver Foundation. In some cases, liver disease is not detected until cirrhosis occurs. Symptoms include bruising easily, intense itching and a higher sensitivity to certain medications. Insulin resistance may occur, leading to diabetes in some individuals. If cirrhosis is diagnosed and treated, it may prevent the damage from getting worse. In many cases it leads to liver cancer and liver failure, which can be fatal.

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