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What Are the Different Liver Inflammation Symptoms?

By Susan Abe
Updated May 17, 2024
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Hepatitis is the formal medical term that refers to cellular death or inflammation of the liver. The liver's main role is as a blood detoxifying organ, although it has many other secondary roles that include producing proteins necessary for both food digestion and blood components, acting as the body's iron storage center and producing immune factors. Any interference with liver function can cause an interruption of one or more of its roles and result in a directly related symptom or sign of the organ's declining ability. Hepatitis is usually categorized as short-term — lasting less than six months — or long-term and these characteristics of the disease can also influence apparent signs of liver disease. Liver inflammation symptoms can include weakness, jaundice, easy bruising and an impaired immune system.

At first, liver inflammation symptoms often manifest as vague complaints that often include weakness, fatigue and a lack of energy. These signs may be related to increasing levels of blood toxins usually filtered and removed from the body by the liver. Patients may also begin to demonstrate easy bruising and delayed clotting and bleeding from minor injuries, such as scratches. These blood-related symptoms begin to occur as the liver's production of clotting proteins is impaired. Other liver inflammation symptoms related to the organ's decreased protein production include severe malaise, frequent colds and infections, and decreased muscle rebuilding secondary to production of fewer amino acids.

The liver's intimate involvement with the blood system accounts for many liver inflammation symptoms. Indeed, at any given time, 13 percent of an individual's blood is within his liver. As the organ begins to fail it no longer filters out and excretes bilirubin, a byproduct of retired red blood cells. Bilirubin builds up in the tissues until the characteristic yellow skin tint associated with jaundice becomes apparent both in the skin and the sclera, or whites, of the eyes. Jaundice is reversible if the liver is able to regain function; however, its presentation indicates that the hepatitis is serious and chronic in nature.

Located just below the left side of the ribcage, the liver is a large organ. Abdominal pain, lack of appetite and nausea may develop as liver inflammation symptoms as the organ becomes tender and takes up more abdominal space. Digestive problems may also result from the lack of some digestive enzymes produced by a healthy liver. Additional liver inflammation symptoms include dark-colored urine and light-colored stools. Waste material that is normally filtered and excreted may build up, causing tender joints and pain with motion.

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