An adult liver is about the size of a football, and is located under the right part of your lower rib cage. It is a critical organ, enabling digestion and ridding the body of toxins.
Some liver diseases are inherited, and others are caused by viruses and chemicals. Your body can manage some on its own, while others must be treated and may have serious complications.
Symptoms of liver disease include:
- Yellowish skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Pain and swelling in the areas of the liver
- Ongoing itchy skin
- Dark urine
- Pale, bloody, or tar-colored stools
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
See your WellStar physician if you have any of these symptoms persistently. If you have severe abdominal pain, seek immediate medical attention.
Causes and Prevention
Causes of liver disease are many, but they include overuse of alcohol, viral infections like hepatitis, toxins, and parasites. Risk factors include:
- Exposure to others' bodily fluids
- Blood transfusion before 1992
- Body piercings and tattoos
- Certain herbs, dietary supplements, and prescription medications
- Heavy alcohol use
- Sharing needles
- Unprotected sex
- Exposure to certain chemicals and toxins
Tests for liver disease may include:
- Blood tests
- Computerized tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Liver biopsy
Treatment for liver disease depends on diagnosis. Some problems need no treatment. Some can be treated with drugs, and some require surgery.