Early Signs and Symptoms of Liver Disease

March 22, 2022
2 min read
Early Signs and Symptoms of Liver Disease

The liver is an organ that sits right under your ribcage. About the size of a football, the liver is essential for the digestion process and ridding your body of toxic materials. Because of the importance of your liver, it’s imperative to recognize the early symptoms of liver disease.

Liver disease can be genetic or caused by viruses, alcohol or even obesity. Conditions that harm the liver can cause cirrhosis (scarring) which can lead to liver failure, a life threatening condition. Catching liver disease early is your best line of defense. What are the symptoms of liver disease?


Yellowing of the skin and eyes, also known as jaundice, is one of the most well known liver disease symptoms. It can also appear in the fingernails and tongue. Jaundice is caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the bloodstream and bodily tissue that would normally be removed by the liver. Bilirubin builds up when the liver is unable to break down old red blood cells. Jaundice can also be the sign of a gallbladder or pancreas issue, so it’s important to seek medical attention the moment you notice this symptom.

Dark Urine Color

If you are drinking an adequate amount of water but you are still experiencing dark colored urine, it may be an early indicator of liver disease. The urine color may range from brown, amber, or even orange due to the buildup of bilirubin. Certain medications, an excess of vitamin B, UTIs, enzyme definices, or kidney abnormalities can all cause alterations to the color of your urine.

Pale Stool Color

Due to the lack of bile being produced in your liver, your stool may become pale in color. The stool may range in color from pale yellow, gray, or clay colored. If this happens occasionally, it is not cause for concern. However, if it is becoming a regular occurrence, you should consider the possibility of liver disease.

Loss of Appetite

The loss of an appetite is very common with liver disease. This occurs because the liver stops producing bile that helps to digest fat. When your food stops being properly digested, it can cause a lack of an appetite and extreme weight loss.

Nausea or Vomiting

It is very likely that you will experience a perpetual upset stomach with liver disease due to the liver’s decreased ability to rid your body of toxins. It can also be due to changes in digestion and ongoing metabolism. However, having an upset stomach is common in many other conditions, such as pregnancy and food poisoning.

Itchy Skin

An early liver disease symptom can be itchy, flaking skin. It is also common to experience bruising and an increase in vein visibility. While using lotion may cause momentary relief, the dermatological symptoms will not resolve until you receive care for the liver problems.

Abdominal Pain and Swelling

Experiencing pain or abnormal bloating in the abdomen can be an indicator of ascites and a malfunctioning liver. Ascites means you have a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. It can be an early sign of liver disease, as it happens when there is either damage to the liver or liver cirrhosis. This is often accompanied by portal hypertension and fluid retention in the lower extremities.

When to See a Doctor

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to see a doctor to discuss the possibility of liver disease. At BASS Medical Group, your care is our top priority. Call (925) 350-4044 to schedule an appointment today.