Early symptoms of liver problems include jaundice, abdominal pain, swelling, itchy skin, dark urine, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, bruising easily, pale stool, and bloody or tar-colored stool, according to Mayo Clinic. At this early stage, the liver may be inflamed, tender and enlarged, notes the American Liver Foundation.
The liver helps to fight infection, cleans the blood, helps digest food and stores energy. Although the liver can regenerate itself when it is damaged, disease that keeps the liver from normal functioning or from regenerating when damaged may be life-threatening, according to the American Liver Foundation. The four stages of liver disease include inflammation, which may cause no discomfort; fibrosis, which is the beginning of scaring; cirrhosis, which is the stage of serious and irreversible scaring; and liver failure, which is a life-threatening condition.
Liver disease may be caused by infection, immune system abnormality, genetics, cancer, abnormal growths, chronic alcohol abuse and fat accumulation in the liver. Treatment for liver disease may include lifestyle modifications such as drinking in moderation and maintaining a healthy weight, careful monitoring of liver functions, medications, surgery and a liver transplant, according to Mayo Clinic. Additionally, those at risk for hepatitis should get vaccinated.