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The liver is the body's filter that keeps toxins out of the blood and allows the internal organs to receive pure blood that contains life-giving oxygen. When the liver starts to fail, it will create a series of subtle symptoms that should not be ignored. It is always important, especially as a person gets older, to discuss any sudden changes in body functions with a doctor.
According to the American Liver Foundation, there are a variety of conditions that can strike the liver that range from liver cysts to liver failure. However, most of the conditions that occur in the liver will usually start off with a similar pattern of symptoms. It is important to report liver-related symptoms to a doctor as soon as possible so that an accurate diagnosis can be made as to whether or not the liver is beginning to fail. Liver failure can usually be stopped if it is caught in the early stages.
One of the earliest symptoms of liver failure is liver inflammation. The most common symptom of liver inflammation is a feeling of tenderness in the back around the area of the liver. This inflammation is an indication that the liver is attempting to fight off some sort of disease or infection. It is possible that an inflammed liver may cause pain and discomfort and it may even feel warm to the touch; however, the American Liver Foundation indicates that when the liver is swelling it does not usually cause any pain.
Another early symptom of liver failure is a loss of appetite. This can start of innocently enough as a insignificant but noticeable lack of desire to eat. Over time, this will start to become a noticeable loss of appetite that can also lead to significant weight loss. As the liver continues to progress toward failure, the loss of appetite will weaken the body, and without the nutrients necessary to keep away disease, it is possible that other diseases may set in. A curious and unexplained loss of appetite should be considered serious, and it should be reported to a doctor immediately.
Mental symptoms due to pending liver failure become noticeable over time. A liver that is failing is not keeping toxins out of the blood, and as these toxins reach the brain, they start to cause behavioral symptoms. Some of these symptoms include a feeling of anxiousness, constant irritability and a feeling of confusion. If the liver fails completely, or these symptom are allowed to persist, the person may eventually fall into a coma.
Jaundice is symptom of liver failure that can appear at any point during the development of liver failure. Jaundice has very distinctive symptoms such as adding a yellowish tint to the skin, adding a yellow color to the whites of the eyes and causing the stool to be a light gray color. Jaundice will usually start off slowly in the initial stages of liver failure. The skin may seem a little more yellow than usual, or a person's stool may become lighter in color. These symptoms need to be reported to a doctor immediately as jaundice can advance quickly once it has started.