Nipping In The Bud: Doctor Shares Early Symptoms Of Liver Disease Among Indians

The liver plays many crucial roles in our body. It has a great ability to tolerate many injuries and has a surprising capability of regeneration where a single cell can divide into thousands. It means that many liver diseases are reversible and if not, they can be stopped or slowed down. However, it is one of the most sensitive organs of the body. Everything you eat has an effect on your liver. With our over-dependence on manufactured food, changing dietary habits, stress and sedentary lifestyles, liver disease has become more common and widespread than ever.

Liver disease in India is increasing at a rapid rate and 20%-30% of adults are affected by it. The deaths constitute a mammoth number of 268,580 (3.17% of all deaths) per year making it 18.3% of global 2 million liver-related deaths.

As per the Liver Foundation, three liver diseases alone, fatty liver, viral hepatitis and liver cancer of a total of over 50 other liver conditions create over 600 million patients in India. Of these over 100 million are children. Every socioeconomic stratum is affected by the condition. It is also possible for someone to have liver disease and have no symptoms of it. Conditions that often affect the liver are hepatitis, jaundice, cirrhosis, cancer, genetic conditions and others. Some are reversible, others are not depending on the degree of damage done.

As per experts, getting a diagnosis of liver disease in its early budding phases can help you recover from them by exercising a few dietary and routine changes. However, if the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to chronic liver failure where a significant part of your liver is damaged and can’t function properly. It is a serious medical condition that requires ongoing management.

Expert shares early warning signs

According to Dr Shubham Vatsya, consultant in Gastroenterology (Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad), alcohol plays a major burden in liver disease accounting for the most common cause of liver cirrhosis. But there has been an upsurge of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in recent years and it is said that by 2035 NAFLD will surpass alcohol as the most common cause of liver cirrhosis. The upsurge is mainly due to changes in lifestyle to a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits causing widespread obesity and insulin resistance.

The expert shared some early warning signs that indicate liver disease and must be taken notice of at the earliest for quicker recovery.

Loss of appetite or not feeling like eating occurs in the early stages of swelling of the liver or hepatitis. Patients see a drastic reduction in their feeling to eat food and develop a dislike for the sight of food.
In the early stages of liver disease one can feel a reduction in stamina to do physical work and tiredness. The feeling of tiredness increases as the liver swelling and/or disease progresses.
Unexpected weight loss is a noticeable drop in body weight that occurs even if the person is not trying to lose weight. Unexplained weight loss can be a symptom of early liver disease and needs further evaluation.
Frequent complaints of nausea.
As the liver disease is in its early stage, bilirubin levels of 2-3 mg% are common and this can be visible in the eyes and urine. An astute clinical examination of the white part of the eye above the eyeballs helps in establishing this yellowness at a very early stage.
Feeling of heaviness on the right side of the upper abdomen is a sign of the liver tissue irritating the capsule over the liver. The patient feels a dragging sensation over the right part of the abdomen without any severe pain or discomfort.

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