Liver pain is felt in the upper right area of the abdomen, just below the ribs. It’s usually a dull, vague pain and sometimes mistaken for a stomach ache. In other cases, it can be quite severe and may even cause your back to hurt. The liver is an organ that detoxifies. If you experience pain, you might have an underlying health issue. Liver disease is the most common reason for liver pain. However, there are more than 100 different types of liver disease. Keep reading to learn more about symptoms of liver pain and associated treatments.
Causes of Liver Pain
There are a plethora of causes of liver pain. Some include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Hepatitis: a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver.
- Cirrhosis: a chronic disease of the liver marked by degeneration of the cells, inflammation, and fibrous thickening of the tissue, typically a result of Hepatitis or alcoholism.
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: a term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. The main characteristic of this is too much fat stored in liver cells.
- Reye Syndrome: a rare but serious condition that causes swelling in the liver and brain.
- Hemochromatosis: a disorder in which the body simply loads too much iron.
- Liver cancer
Symptoms of Liver Disease
There are many symptoms of liver disease and the most common side effects include:
- Dark urine
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Swelling of the legs and ankles
- Itchy skin
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- The tendency to bruise easily
- Loss of appetite
- Pale, bloody or tar-colored stool
Prone to Liver Disease
People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol at once over a period of time are prone to liver pain and disease. Certain medications can affect the liver as well. Genetics can also play a role in the development of some form of liver disease. Therefore, almost anyone can develop liver disease during a lifetime.
Liver Pain Prevention
Alcohol is the number one cause of liver disease in North America, which causes pain in the liver. This can be prevented by not consuming alcohol. If liver pain and disease run in your family, there may be no way of preventing it even if you don’t drink alcohol. Different medications can also cause liver pain. Do you take particular medications that may have this side effect and it’s a concern to you? Discuss it with your doctor to see if there are other treatment options.
When To Be Concerned
Liver pain is a concern as soon as you feel the pain. Monitor it closely. If you experience two or more of the symptoms of liver disease, seek medical help right away. When liver pain is not addressed accordingly, it could become a bigger issue and cause more complications to your health.
Visiting Your Doctor
Liver pain might be caused by a bump or bruise on the abdomen. However, if the aching continues, it could be a serious issue. If you are unsure of your family medical history, ask a close relative before visiting your doctor. That way, you can try to provide the medical provider with the best information possible.
Diagnosing Liver Pain
Your physician may want to run a few tests to determine the underlying cause of your liver pain. These tests might include the following:
- Liver Function Test: a blood test used to diagnose liver disease
- Blood Test: to look for specific liver problems or genetic conditions
- Imaging Tests: an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to show liver damage
Treatment Options For Liver Pain
Liver pain that is prevalent in the morning after breakfast or a night of drinking alcohol calls for plenty of water. You should also avoid fatty or heavy foods for a few days and sit up straight to help take pressure off the liver. If these options do not help to alleviate the pain, or the pain worsens, seek medical help. Depending on your condition, treatment options may include medications. Chemotherapy or surgery might be necessary depending on your diagnosis.
Liver Pain And Everyday Life
Having liver pain may slow you down or debilitate you from doing everyday activities. You might need to take things a bit easier and be more gentle when doing certain tasks. If you are required to take medications to treat liver pain, they can cause side effects that might disrupt your daily routine.
Long-Term Side Effects Of Liver Pain
Depending on what the cause of the liver pain, there may not be any long-term effects. If it’s easily treated with medications, you shouldn’t have to worry about any future complications. When the liver pain is caused by something more serious, such as liver cancer or hepatitis, you will have to discuss treatment options and undergo a specific plan. The regime may be for a short period of time or the rest of your life depending on your condition.