Some of the Symptoms of Liver Failure

Certain symptoms are clear indicators of liver failure: abdominal pain, slow digestion, and yellowing of the skin among others.
Some of the Symptoms of Liver Failure
Elisa Martin Cano

Written and verified by the doctor Elisa Martin Cano.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Liver failure is a big deal because this organ is essential for the functioning of the human body. Today’s article will discuss some of the reasons why it may stop working as it should. Hopefully, it’ll help you evaluate the health of your own liver.

The liver functions

This is one of the most important body organs and it’s just below the diaphragm, on the right side of the body. It’s also one of the largest and weighs between 2 and 3.5 pounds. The liver has three functions:

  • To filter the blood by removing toxins from chemical substances that are hard for the body to metabolize — drugs and alcohol, among others. This means the liver filters them from the blood and transforms them into others the body can either use or eliminate.
  • Bile plays an important role in digestion, as it’s responsible for breaking down fats in the small intestine in order for the body to absorb them. It also transports the substances the body will expel.
  • It participates in the synthesis and storage of amino acids and proteins — very necessary for the body. In addition, it stores sugars in the form of glycogen, which will transform into glucose and serve as blood fuel. It also stores fats, as well as some vitamins and minerals.

Liver failure

This occurs when, as per the name, the liver fails to work as it should. The symptoms may manifest suddenly, or may slowly progress and worsen over time.

Many diseases affect the liver and lead to failure, some of the most important are:

A doctor writing a prescription.
Alcoholism is the main cause of cirrhosis.

Find out how to Improve Your Liver Health with a Simple Remedy: Boldo

What happens when the liver doesn’t work?

Many signs can indicate when the liver stops working as it should, the most notable are:

  • Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes produced when bilirubin accumulates. The liver degrades this substance when it works properly. A person may also be itchy because the bilirubin accumulates in the epidermis when the body fails to eliminate it.
  • Tiredness happens when the glycogen, vitamins, and minerals necessary for energy supply are no longer being stored.
  • Heavy digestion and bloating after meals, including nausea, and diarrhea. There may also be pain on the side of the abdomen where the liver is. There’s no bile secretion and thus, no digestion of fats and so the symptoms begin to appear.
  • Pale-colored stools and dark urine.
  • Edema in legs, ankles, and abdomen — swelling.

Diagnosis and prevention of liver failure

A physician should always evaluate the situation and perform the necessary tests to diagnose liver failure. Tests may include a blood test, imaging, or biopsy.

Some of the measures to take in order to prevent it are:

  • An adequate, healthy, and balanced diet with just enough fat and salt content
  • Be moderate in your consumption of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and other chemical substances
  • Vaccinate against hepatitis

The treatment of liver failure will depend on its cause. Consult a doctor as soon as possible in the event of any alarming symptoms so they can diagnose and prescribe treatment as soon as possible.

A man in pain.
Pain in the liver area may be a symptom of liver failure.

Check out these Five Tips To Protect Your Liver Health

In a nutshell

The liver is an essential organ for the body and you must keep it in good shape. Thus, it’s important to maintain healthy habits and, of course, consult a doctor if you have any symptoms of liver failure.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • El-Kamary, S. S., & Strickland, G. T. (2016). Hepatitis, Viral. In International Encyclopedia of Public Health (Vol. 2, Issue 2, pp. 611–620). Elsevier Inc.
  • Sanz Arevalillo, N., et al. “Metástasis ósea como primera manifestación de un hepatocarcinoma.” Anales de Medicina Interna. Vol. 21. No. 4. Arán Ediciones, SL, 2004.
  • Torre, A. “Complicaciones de la cirrosis hepática: ascitis, encefalopatía, síndrome hepatorrenal y estado nutricional.” Revista de Gastroenterología de México 79.1 (2014): 5-7.
  • Woreta TA, Alqahtani SA. Evaluation of abnormal liver tests. Med Clin North Am. 2014 Jan;98(1):1-16.
  • Mandato C, Di Nuzzi A, Vajro P. Nutrition and Liver Disease. Nutrients. 2017 Dec 23;10(1):9.
  • Wang FS, Fan JG, Zhang Z, Gao B, Wang HY. The global burden of liver disease: the major impact of China. Hepatology. 2014 Dec;60(6):2099-108.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.