the signs you can spot


  • Viral hepatitis is caused by five viruses: A, B, C, D and E.
  • According to Health Insurance, cirrhosis is characterized by irreversible and diffuse damage to the liver.
  • As for liver cancer, it affects 8,000 new people each year in France, according to the Institut Curie.

Liver disease is sometimes silent. “It is therefore unfortunately common to diagnose liver disease at an advanced stage (cirrhosis, liver cancer) when no or almost no symptoms were present., observes the French Society of Hepatology (AFEF). However, certain signs may alert to the presence of liver disease.

What are the symptoms of liver disease?

Liver disease can affect general health. It is then manifested by significant and persistent fatigue, loss of weight and/or appetite, difficulty eating certain foods, swelling of the stomach or bloating, or even by difficulty concentrating. But the disease can also have specific signs: jaundice, or a yellow coloring of the skin or eyes, reflects a problem with the liver. The Swiss Association of Hepatological Patients reports several other manifestations of these pathologies: dark urine, “beer-colored brown”, discolored stools, muscle and joint pain, or a decrease in hair growth on the stomach and chest for men. . The presence of hemorrhage, either blood in the stool or vomiting blood, can also be a symptom. These different signs should alert: in the presence of one of them, it is important to quickly consult a health professional. Itching all over the body, also called pruritus, or unusual tiredness can also be linked to these diseases, but they are not urgent and serious symptoms.

What are the tests for detecting liver disease?

In case of symptoms, or in prevention in people at risk, such as those with cirrhosis, a blood test can assess the state of health of the liver and identify any disease. It aims to measure the levels of different liver enzymes: “An abnormality in one or more of these enzymes often (but not always) reflects an abnormality in the liver.”, specifies the AFEF. An increase in the level of transaminases in the liver is a sign of inflammation in this organ, and an increase in Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT) and Alkaline Phosphatases (ALP) is characteristic of an abnormality in the bile ducts, the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the intestine. Two other markers are associated with liver pathologies: the blood level of conjugated bilirubin and the prothrombin level. “Liver can be trickynotes the AFEF. So even in poor liver health, these different tests can be normal..” In case of suspicion of liver disease, medical imaging can observe the state of the liver to identify any abnormal signs.

What are the main diseases that affect the liver?

These complementary examinations are necessary to identify liver diseases. These can be cirrhosis, hepatitis of viral origin, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (fatty liver disease) or even liver cancer.

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