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Early Signs of Liver Damage & How to Strengthen Your Liver

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Early Signs of Liver Damageto and How to Strengthen Your Liver

Your liver is one of the largest organs in your body and is located in the upper right part of your belly under the ribs. The liver is responsible for many functions that are essential for life and this is why you should keep your liver in top working condition and be aware of early signs of liver damage.

The main responsibilities of the liver are:

  • Making bile which is required for digestion of fats
  • Removal of toxins from the body (not only environmental toxins, but also of metabolic waste)
  • Helping to regulate the hormone activity
  • Building protein
  • Production of biochemicals necessary for digestion

Everything we eat must be processed by the liver before it can be distributed throughout the body. Due to its wide range of functions, the health of our body is directly related to the liver functioning at its peak. Although the liver can replace damaged cells, if enough cells are lost, the liver may not be able to function properly.


The Causes for liver damage

Liver problems usually occur gradually and over many years. The most common cause for liver problems is long term alcohol consumption. Other causes are:

  • Various viruses including many type of hepatitis
  • Malnutrition
  • Reactions to certain medications
  • Overuse of certain medications (conventional and alternative)
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Inherited disorders of iron and copper metabolism
  • Diseases like liver cancer and fatty liver caused by obesity
  • Diabetics have an increased risk of liver disease

Even smoking can dramatically increase the risk for not only lung cancer, but also liver cancer. Certain chemotherapy drugs can damage cells in the liver, and even too much of vitamin A can cause liver damage.

Symptoms of liver damage

Abdominal pain – especially where the liver is located, in the upper right part of the belly under the ribs.

General fatigue and confusion – you may feel very weak or tired. The physical feeling can also turn into mental disorientation or confusion. If it occurs along with other related symptoms, it may indicate a liver problem.

Diarrhea, constipation or intestinal bleeding – there are noticeable changes in bowel movement. You may have periods of constipation or diarrhea or change in the stool color or traces of blood in it.

Itchy skin – due to bile salts that are deposited in the skin. The itchiness is persistent and can develop into a flaky rash.

Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) – this is a symptom of a liver damage that occurs due to a bile pigment (called bilirubin) in the blood and tissues of the body that cannot be eliminated from the body and begins to accumulate under the skin. Sometimes the fingernails or the finger tips can turn yellow. Jaundice is often seen in liver disease such as hepatitis or liver cancer.


Dark yellow urine – Due to increased levels of the bile pigment in the body that cannot be eliminated by the damaged liver. People may associate it with dehydration, but if they drink enough fluids, it should not happen.

Nausea and vomiting – Due the interruption to the digestive system, you may suffer from heartburn, nausea and vomiting.

Loss of appetite / weight loss – in advanced stages of liver disease, there might be appetite loss that can lead to a serious weight loss.

Swollen abdomen or legs – in progressing stages of liver disease (called Cirrhosis) there is a common complication of fluid retention (edema) in the abdominal cavity, but the swelling can also occur in the ankles and legs. When there is a massive fluid in the abdomen, the belly looks like a belly of a pregnant woman and it can also cause pressure in the lungs making it difficult to breathe

Easy bleeding and bruising may occur due to decreased production of clotting factors.

Imbalance in sex hormones – this can cause enlarged breasts in men or poor sex drive.

Blood test results – Normal RDW levels and high MCV levels. These blood tests are used by doctors as part of a complete blood test to help diagnose certain conditions that can affect your health. If your RDW levels are normal but MCV is too high, then this could mean that you have liver problems.

Acute liver failure can also cause symptoms of excessive fluid in the brain and kidney failure.

When you should seek medical help

  • If you feel fatigue and weak or you have lost weight without any explanation, go to see your doctor.
  • If you have jaundice, persistent fever, abdominal pain and vomiting, you should also be examined.

In addition –  I always recommend to see your doctor if you don’t feel well or when having any medical issue. If in doubt see your doctor!


How to Strengthen Your Liver

Looking after you liver is one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health. You can change some unhealthy habits and include lifestyle changes in order to strengthen and take care of your liver:

If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, it’s about time to limit your alcohol intake! The more you drink and the longer period you do it, the more likely you are to damage your liver.

Limit your caffeine intake, as alcohol and caffeine deposit toxins in your liver and damage its function. You don’t need to completely avoid coffee as a recent research found that a moderate consumption of coffee can actually benefit your liver.

Another bad habit to quit is smoking as it creates toxins that have disastrous effect on the liver.

Instead of alcohol and caffeine, drink plenty of water to help flushing all the toxins in your body.

You can also drink water lemon as lemon juice stimulates bile production (see my other post about the health benefits of drinking lemon water).


Drink herbal teas and natural fruit juices or smoothies. Green tea is especially good as it is rich in antioxidants that improve the liver function and help to reduce fat storage in the liver.

Berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries enhance liver health due to their organic acids that lower sugar levels in your blood and help you to burn fat, thus lowering your chance of fatty liver disease. You can find more information about the incredible healing properties of berries in my e-book The Healing Berry Guide. This e-book will teach you how to transform your health with berries.

It is also important to maintain a healthy body weight by maintaining a proper nutrition and exercising regularly.

Avoid fatty foods, junk foods and processed foods that contain a lot of chemicals and artificial additives and replace them instead with vegetables, especially dark leafy greens and beets, fruits, whole grains, nut and seeds.

Increase your garlic consumption as it improves the liver function by flushing out toxins from the body and protecting the liver from damages caused by toxins. See also my article about the best foods to cleanse your liver.

Another important thing to do, is to follow the dosage of the medications given by your doctor. Also check the label to see if there are any warnings of possible liver damage. This is true not just for conventional medicines, but also for supplements and herbs as they, too, can be harmful to the liver in excess amounts.

If you are diabetics or suffer from high blood pressure, maintain regular medical checkups to monitor your blood sugar levels, triglycerides and cholesterol levels that may lead to fatty liver disease.

Maintain good hygiene habits to prevent hepatitis viral infections through contaminated food, water, blood and other body fluids.

Use herbs that are good for liver cleansing – see my article about the best herbs for liver cleansing, including liver tonic recipe. You can also read my e-book The Herbal Remedies Guide to Discover how to use herbal medicine effectively to heal away disease & illnesses.

The liver is essential for your survival and currently there is no way to compensate for the absence of liver functions in the long term.  This is why you need to maintain your liver in a top condition. Start changing your bad habits now!  I know that it’s not always easy, but you have to start from something. If you are interested learn about the best foods for liver cleansing than you should read my other post: The Best Foods to Cleanse Your Liver.

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58 Responses to Early Signs of Liver Damage & How to Strengthen Your Liver

  1. Asabe Umar says:

    Wonderful very educative. What about gynecology issues?

  2. Sunny Holmes says:

    I have been told my liver’s fine because my liver enzymes are normal in blood work, but I do have a number of the symptoms listed. I also do most all of the healthy suggestions, plus I don’t drink or smoke. I’m very conscious of healthy eating and eat organically. Should I be concerned and ask for more tests?

    • Jenny says:

      Maybe your symptoms don’t relate to the liver but to something else. I think it’s always best to discuss your concerns with your doctor, and maybe further tests will be able to find the source of the problem.

  3. Edna De Jesus says:

    Thanks for the info… It will help me a lot

  4. Edelwina Coronel says:

    last 2008 i was told by a private laboratory clinic that i have hepatitis C.i was scheduled to work overseas but have to cancel because of the medical results.i then seek the opinion of another doctor from a respectable & trusted hospital which the actual results differ from the other laboratory w/c i was tested twice just to be my question is how can i be hepatitis C free?and how did i contacted hepatitis C in the first place? what are the symptoms that should be on look out? please enlighten me.thank you & God bless.

  5. Derrick Cadalig Lacay says:

    This is the way we can help drunkenness people improve their life.

  6. imran riaz says:

    Very informative. But what about those who had acute Hepatitis-A in the past. I suffered from it 19 years ago when you was 25.
    Am I in more danger of liver malfunction than others?

    • Jenny says:

      I have read that almost all people who get Hepatitis A recover completely and don’t have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months. Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in people 50 years of age or older and people with other liver diseases, such as Hepatitis B or C. See more information here –

    • V. Bolster says:

      My son and daughter got hep B from the vaccine. both fully recovered and live healthy lives. Just stick with eating a healthy diet, get good exercise, plenty of fluids and sleep…you will be fine…:)

  7. Jon Ward says:

    I have Hep C and really watch my liver. Just had a altra sound. I am now approved for the new $1,000.00 a pill treatment. Total $88,000.00 covered by Trillum in Canada. Looking forward to the cure.

    • Niki says:

      Can anyone be cured on this expensive pill (1000 per day) from Hep C? I want my sister in law to take it, I know she has money but she just avoids the issue when I raise it with her. She contracted Hep C thru blood transfusion when she was having a baby in the hospital almost 28 years ago. She looks after her self but that is a long time to have it, so I’m worried for her.

      • Shelly Iona says:

        Hi Nicki. I am cured of HepC by the new meds. I also got it through blood transfusions in the mid 1980’s. The modern treatments are way easier than the older ones, and the success rates are in the 90-97% range. I was scared to do the pills, but was getting so sick as the infection was catching up to me. I forged ahead and did it, and have been free of the virus since last September. This does not go away on its own, and the liver gets sicker and sicker.

    • Shelly Iona says:

      Hi Jon…Yes, my treatment was in the $80,000 dollar range. I am virus free now, and my overall health has soared. I had the Hepc since the mid eigthties. Good luck on your recovery.

  8. mahmud says:

    I was told that I have hepatitis b.A doctor prescribed a drug for me When I met with another doctor he said I was not supposed to use any drug. But since have started then I have to use d drug for life. But I don’t want to use drug for life. The last test I did show s that the afp (alpha feter protein) is 0.8. Can I stop d drug and take plenty of water.

    • Jenny says:

      Unfortunately I don’t have knowledge in this case. This is something that requires a specialist.

  9. lynae says:

    i love these articles and recently found out that my grandpa is having liver troubles. i found this article to be very helpful, however my grandparents are not on facebook and i cannot seem to find a way to email this article to them. if some way could be an option that would be great. thank you, lynae

  10. melsew getahun says:

    it is very good it gave me more knowledge about liver disease.thank u very much

  11. k.mohanarangam says:

    useful information & thanks to the author

  12. Salis Moriki says:

    Very educative. Thanks.

  13. KC Kang says:

    How much coffee is considered bad and would cause damage to the liver? I drink on average 4/5 mugs a day.

  14. Esther Erinoso says:

    Like to know and learn more about health tips.

  15. Manoj Ambhore says:

    Does milk thistle helps in liver disorders?

  16. Darlenia Killen says:

    I have liver enzymes of 15 and my doctor is concerned. I know I have liver damage from having the CMV virus which made my enzymes go up into the 800’s. I take several medications that could cause a problem with my liver but I need to take for other problems. What should I do?

    • Jenny says:

      Sometimes there is a need to take medications that are good for one thing, but can cause side effects or damage in other places. The balance between the advantages and disadvantages of a certain medications is something that should be monitored and determined by your doctor according to your specific situation. Sometimes there is a need to do some adjustments in the type of medicine or dosage to get the most benefits while causing the less possible damage.

  17. Liz says:

    My boyfriend did a 1 month detox to cleanse
    his liver. Now whenever he has a glass of
    alcohol he gets gout. And pretty badly.
    What can he do? He doesn’t want to give
    up alcohol.

  18. Afroz Basha says:

    Very useful Advise Thanks

  19. bien says:

    What should do if all symptoms you have and you know your liver probleme there is any possible to do specially natural remedy or there is medicine we need to drink of that and they can cure thank

    • Jenny says:

      Your liver problem should first be diagnosed by a doctor who can perform the required tests and knows your medical history. It’s hard to give advice over the internet especially that liver problems vary in range and some require medical treatment.

  20. Ken Burkard says:

    I had chronic hep b for several years. My gastro guy put me on hepsera and it got rid of the hep b and I believe it saved my life! 🙂

  21. gim says:

    i had hepa b when i was 8yrs old.and im 30yrs old now.but on my previous lab hepa b does mean im hepa b free?can stil infect other?especialy my wife?

  22. Denedo Victor says:

    Amazing and very educating,this information will help to save people having liver problem,thanks for the information,i wish you all the best.

  23. vilma says:

    What do you meean by Inherited disorder of iron?

  24. james says:

    Hi i had routine bloodwork last month and my enzymes were high i was tested for hepatitis and hiv which came back negative. The dr said even though they were high its not alarming also my white blood cell count was high but most likely due to the throat infection. I had surgery a year and a half ago for broken spine now have titanium rods in my back, i got staph infection during surgery and had it for 3 weeks before treatment i received surgery for that and was on an antibiotic for 2 months through a pikk line then 2 months of oral antibiotics i had internal damage (swollen spleen ) from blunt force trauma. Ive been on oxycodone, fentanyl patch, and valium for about a year. I was on stronger meds in the beginning of recovery. Just a couple weeks ago i had a throat infection and a slight fever i started having diarreah and my stool has been soft since which is not normal being.ive had constipation issues since the accident which i assumed was from the pain med the throat infectioncleared up fast after taking a zpack i frequently have to urinate even though i dont drink much, im getting an ultrasound tomorrow but i am still really scared of what could be going on after spending TOO much time on google. Could it be something simple like a fatty liver? Any help, experience or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.

  25. ebi miebiv says:

    Very educative and informative article. How does my coffee and tea on alternate days taken daily affect my liver? Even as I take it with a generous amount of liquid milk always? When and how is the best time to drink green tea? Is chamomille tea any good? What of honey?

    • Jenny says:

      It’s all a matter of consuming coffee and tea in moderation. Green tea and herbal teas are good for the liver (read my article about the best foods to cleanse your liver). Also read my article about green tea which you can consume throughout the day. Honey is good as a natural sugar substitute, but again should be consumed in moderation.

  26. Ajansondkar says:

    My mom’s body swelling from 4 months or more.As per Dr suggestion we did lots of test even adv test. All were normal BT still she have.

  27. Brenda R says:

    Thank you for the information….

    I had a twin sister pass away with Cirrhosis of the liver… (she was an alcoholic) Which does run in the family. I do not drink alcohol but have a very high level on my blood test… I have had two doctors ask if I drink alcohol or take Tylenol, I am over weight and was recently diagnosed as a diabetic.

    I guess I am more concerned with the levels then the doctors.. I do have several of the sign for Liver Damage.. Am at this point taking Milk Thistle with turmeric.. I am not sure what more to do…

    More information on liver damage would be awesome…

  28. Alina says:

    I have fatty liver.I have been taking milk thistle.will my liver be normal again.???

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Alina, milk thistle is known to support healthy liver functioning. Doctor Andrew Weil mentions milk thistle as a treatment for fatty liver (see here) and I’ve seen other places mention it, including this report, but I don’t know if it can completely reverse the damage – you need to implement other lifestyle changes (see more information here).

  29. Julius says:

    people who are living with liver hapetitis may get married and have health kids??

  30. Bright says:

    I joined a voluntary test in 2011 and I was hep. B positive. My latest blood test was in 2013 and it was still positive. I also did liver function test and there was nothing wrong with my liver. Since my initial test to date, I don’t feel any pain. Are there any dangers ahead?

    • Jenny says:

      According to WebMD, many people with hepatitis B don’t know they have it because they don’t have symptoms. It is said there that in most cases hepatitis B goes away on its own but sometimes chronic hepatitis B can lead to severe liver damage. According to Mayo Clinic these include Scarring of the liver, liver cancer and liver failure. Talk to your doctor about checking again whether you still have it and whether you need a certain treatment.

  31. Onovo Saint says:

    What test will go for to know if I have liver disease

    • Jenny Hills says:

      I’m not sure (I’m not a doctor). Your doctor will be able to refer you to do the right tests needed.

  32. Ganes.R says:

    I’m ganes
    My mum liver is very weak according to doctor,which is the best food for strengthen the liver
    Pls I need your advice

  33. Tojo Mathew says:

    I have my routine medical check-up and found that fatty liver grade II-III. and having portal hypertension. Dr. diagnosed it as an early stage of liver Cirrhosis. I was an occational consumer of alcohol and used to take glucophage 1000mg twice a day since my sugar lever was just crossing the border.
    I never had any symptoms of such you have mentioned in your article.
    Is it possible to reverse this condition? and what is my future?

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Cirrhosis happens in response to damage to your liver. Each time your liver is damaged, it tries to repair itself and in the process a scar tissue forms. According to Mayo Clinic, the liver damage done by cirrhosis generally can’t be undone. But if liver cirrhosis is diagnosed early and the cause is treated, further damage can be limited and, rarely, reversed. In your case the cirrhosis is in its early stages and you didn’t experience any serious symptoms so I think it should encourage you in your efforts to avoid bad habits that damage your liver and take a good care of it.

  34. Kathleene Parker says:

    I find your advice to “consult your doctor” to be laughable and DANGEROUS. I raised issues with doctors, TRYING IN VAIN, to tell them that there was something wrong with my liver, and I’d end up with some jackass shoving routine liver-enzyme tests in my face and telling me I was fine. Well, I wasn’t. I had ADVANCED pernicious anemia, which can DAMAGE THE LIVER! When I finally absolutely pitched a fit, I was sent to a liver specialist and she found several things “off,” and is now working with me to resolve the problems, although NATURAL HERBALS, especially nettle and dandelion, have been far more helpful. What’s sad is that my liver issues got so advanced–I almost DIED ONCE–with me having CLASSIC liver symptoms, yet not one damned INCOMPETENT gastroenterologist really considered liver!

    • Jenny Hills, Nutritionist and Medical Writer says:

      I’m sorry to hear that Kathleene. I hope you get better and I wish you a long and healthy life. Take care and all the best for you.

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