Liver health is vital to your overall well-being, and it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of metabolic liver disease. Normally, the liver works to filter toxins and other harmful materials out of the body. When the liver isn’t working well, many health problems can occur, especially in newborns, infants, and children. Here, Dr. Joel Lavine explains key signs that the liver is struggling to function properly.
Sign #1: Jaundice
Bilirubin is a yellow-tinged substance in the blood that’s usually removed during the liver’s filtration process. When your liver isn’t functioning properly, bilirubin builds up in the body, resulting in jaundice, which creates a yellow tinge to the skin and eyes, according to Dr. Joel Lavine.
Sign #2: Lethargy
When the body experiences a build-up of toxins due to improper liver function, energy levels tend to dip, says Dr. Joel Lavine. General lethargy and fatigue can be indicative of many health issues, so it’s important that you make an appointment with your doctor if you or your child are experiencing chronic fatigue.
Sign #3: Bruising easily
A healthy liver produces proteins that help blood clot, according to Dr. Joel Lavine. When the liver isn’t functioning properly, it produces fewer of the proteins required to help the blood clot after an injury. This can result in large and severe bruises after bumps that wouldn’t result in a bruise at all in a person with a healthy liver.
Sign #4: Pain in the abdomen
Some metabolic liver conditions can cause severe pain in the abdomen. The liver is located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, and many children experiencing forms of metabolic liver disease experience pain in this area. Children who are unable to express their pain may show excessive crying or may arch their back in an attempt to mitigate the pain in their abdomen.
Sign #5: Seizures
People who have liver problems may experience seizures. When the liver does not function properly, ammonia can build up in the blood, which can negatively affect the central nervous system. This can cause tremors and seizures, according to Dr. Joel Lavine.
If you’re concerned about the function of your liver or you’re concerned that your child may have liver problems, it’s important that you reach out to your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician right away, according to Dr. Joel Lavine. Early detection is key for the treatment of liver problems.