4 Causes and 5 Symptoms of Liver Failure

· October 6, 2017
The problem with having an insufficient or failing liver is that symptoms only appear when it's serious. That's why you should seek the help of a specialist as soon as possible to avoid greater complications.

Liver failure occurs when your liver loses its ability to function regularly and correctly. It’s a progressive problem that cause severe damage to the liver.

Its development is not immediate, however. Instead, it develops over a period of months and years.

Overall, there are two types: acute and chronic.

  • In the acute form, the functions of the liver are affected rather quickly.
  • In chronic liver failure, the problems appear much slower and a lot of time may pass before you notice.

Causes of liver failure

Just like the majority of serious diseases, liver failure has many causes. Take note of the principal ones and detect if you’re at risk of suffering from it.

If so, meet with your doctor to eliminate any doubts.

The most common causes are:

1. The presence of certain viruses

Throughout the day, we come into contact with a large quantity of elements and toxins that can damage our liver. 

Some of these elements are viruses that we can contract from different sources. Those that cause the most damage to our hepatic health are the simple herpes virus and hepatitis A, B and E.

2. Excessive use of medication

Without a doubt, the right medications taken at the right time give our bodies what they need to be healthy. However, exceeding the proper dose or taking medications that you don’t need can result in liver failure.

Among the drugs that you should be especially careful with are:

  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antibiotics
  • Contraceptives

It’s common for some people to increase their dosage or the frequency that they take their medications when they feel like they’re not working as effectively as they would like.

Before making that decision, however, ask your doctor to find out if it is necessary to change something or if it is just you who is not noticing the difference.

3. Eating harmful foods

Some of the foods that we eat on a regular basis can contain small amounts of toxins. Because of this, you should pay attention to which foods make you feel bad and try to carry out a balanced diet. 

  • Mushrooms are one of the most common foods in our diet that contain small amounts of toxins.
  • If you consume this fungi often and you also self-medicate or are a carrier of one of the previously mentioned viruses, the possibility of liver failure increases.

5. Drinking too much alcohol

The last of the causes of hepatic insufficiency is excessive alcohol. Although we already know that it’s best to limit our drinks as much as possible, the reality is that we don’t always do it.

However, someone who consumes alcohol several times a week is, without a doubt, putting their liver at risk.

  • The best thing to do is to never drink more than two glasses of alcohol a day.
  • If you have already done that, or think that you will drink more than that, drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink.

Symptoms of liver failure

Now that you already know the most common causes of hepatic insufficiency, it’s time to find out what the symptoms of it are.

It’s important to keep in mind that the symptoms appear after the liver is already damaged considerably. So, diagnosing the problem in its early stages is usually difficult.

The most common symptoms are:

1. Change of skin color

When you have liver failure, your skin changes to a light yellow color. This is due to the excessive accumulation of bilirubin in the skin.

Since the liver cannot process bilirubin, it accumulates in the blood and in the pigment under the skin.

2. Abdominal pain

Regardless of the cause of the damage, one of the most common symptoms of it is abdominal pain. 

This is usually due to inflammation of the liver and it becomes sensitive.

3. Indigestion

When liver damage begins to develop and cause severe damage to the liver, it stops producing bile. This is important because bile plays a fundamental role in the digestive process.

When bile is not being produced correctly, foods are not digested as they should be and it gives you indigestion.

4. Pale stools

Bile is related to the digestive system and it also gives stool its brown color. It’s normal for stool to have a brown color.

However, if your stool looks white or a very light color, you should check that your liver is functioning correctly.

When your liver is having issues and limits the production of this liquid, the changes in the color of your stool can be seen.

5. Icterus

Icterus is an illness that leaves no question of whether your liver is not functioning correctly.

When you have this disease, the color of your skin turns yellow and the whites of your eyes also take on a yellowish tone. 


Liver failure should be treated as soon as you know that you are suffering from it to avoid complications. The treatment depends on the cause of the illness and the symptoms that you are showing. The most important thing is that you do exactly what the doctor tells you to do.