Notice first symptoms – how to recognize liver disease

Do you think that a friend or family member might have a liver disease? Or has a friend or family member of yours recently been diagnosed with a liver disease such as hepatic encephalopathy? You probably have many questions and would like to better understand the conditions. This page will give you an initial overview, but it cannot  replace consulting a doctor.

So what are typical symptoms for liver disease

Unfortunately, there are often no noticeable signs that warn patients at an early stage. There are some symptoms that may reveal a liver disease, but they could also have different causes:

  • Fatigue
  • Concentration and sleep disorders
  • Pressure sensation and pain sensitivity in the right upper abdomen
  • Tendency to flatulence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nosebleeds and tendency to bruising

As liver disease progresses, so do the symptoms. In the next section, you will learn more about the symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy, a liver-induced brain dysfunction. In any case: If you suspect that a relative or friend has liver disease, you should always consult a doctor.

What are typical signs of hepatic encephalopathy?

Often it is relatives or friends who first notice typical changes. Therefore, be particularly attentive when you notice the following signs of hepatic encephalopathy:

  • Decreasing ability to concentrate
  • Deterioration of short-term memory
  • Limited fine motor skills
  • Decrease in responsiveness
  • Mood swings and character changes

Especially when these symptoms are associated with chronic liver disease (mostly cirrhosis), the diagnosis of hepatic encephalopathy must be considered. Further investigations help to confirm the diagnosis.

Learn more about the symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy.

What is hepatic encephalopathy?

Hepatic encephalopathy is a liver-induced brain dysfunction:

If the liver can no longer perform its detoxification function in the case of chronic damage, a particularly serious complication of cirrhosis of the liver occurs. As a result, harmful metabolic products, especially ammonia, enter the brain in high concentrations.

Learn more about hepatic encephalopathy.

What are the causes of hepatic encephalopathy?

Several processes in the body are involved in HE. In particular, the affected liver can no longer ensure that ammonia is excreted sufficiently from the body. Ammonia is produced by metabolic processes mainly in the intestines, muscles and kidneys, e.g. in the digestion of dietary proteins. If the liver no longer works sufficiently, ammonia enters the brain via the bloodstream. That leads to an increasing poisoning and as a consequence to the disturbance of the brain function. 

Learn more about the causes of hepatic encephalopathy.