What your liver is trying to tell you

Long before the damage can’t be undone, your liver will let you know all is not well.

Signs of a damaged liver

Prescription medicines and herbal remedies may be just as toxic to your liver as alcohol abuse.

The liver has a vital role to play in keeping you healthy, so it is important to take good care of it. When working optimally, the liver filters blood from the digestive tract, neutralising harmful toxins and secreting bile to help break down fats.

The organ also produces proteins that have specific roles, such as helping blood to clot, among hundreds of other functions.

While we hope the medicines our doctors recommend will keep us healthy, overuse of some drugs could also be preventing the liver from doing its job properly.

Among the suspects are statins, used to lower cholesterol, some common antibiotics, and even medications for the heart.

According to medical website MSD Manual, many herbs contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which may also damage the liver. These herbs include borage, comfrey, and certain Chinese herbs, including ones used to make tea.

If you are concerned, ask your doctor to request a blood test to check your level of liver enzymes.

And watch out for the following symptoms that may be an indication your liver is compromised, according to myDr.com.au:

  • fatigue – unexplained tiredness is at the top of the list of common symptoms of liver damage
  • nausea – when the liver can’t do its job properly, toxins it has not been able to neutralise leech into your bloodstream making you feel sick in the stomach
  • pale-coloured stools – this occurs when insufficient bile salts have been released by an underperforming liver. Conversely, very dark almost black stools are a sign of blood in the bowel from advanced liver disease
  • yellowish skin or eyes – known as jaundice. This discolouration is caused by a build-up of bilirubin that has not been properly processed. Sometimes, this can cause itchiness around the body
  • dark-coloured urine – excess bilirubin can also lead to urine that is more orange or brown than pale yellow
  • bruising – if you bruise easily, it may indicate your liver is not producing enough blood clotting chemicals
  • swelling – water retention as a result of a damaged liver may appear around your abdomen, ankles and legs
  • reddened skin – people with advanced liver disease often present with very red palms of the hand. Others will develop visible clusters of spider-shaped arteries just under the skin surface on the upper part of the body.

Do you have to have a liver function test regularly to ensure you are not storing chemicals from your medications?


    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


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    1st Jan 2019
    My liver thrives well on a healthy diet of the four major food groups - pies, chips, chocolate and beer......
    1st Jan 2019
    I assume it's pointless pointing out the nutritional defficency caused by excluding ice-cream then?
    1st Jan 2019
    ...... and cake!
    1st Jan 2019
    Damn - I KNEW there was something lacking.....
    almost a grey hair
    1st Jan 2019
    The liver is evil and must be punished
    1st Jan 2019
    The liver is an amazing organ that has to work hard to get rid of toxins, many diseases start from a sluggish liver. Many of the tests do not show up problems that are deep inside the liver. I recommend reading Anthony Williams book "Liver Rescue" borrow it from the library, has some fascinating info and what you can do to be healthier and fitter.

    Sorry Trebor, your diet is the worst, I don't believe you are thriving, most people don't know what healthy feels like.
    1st Jan 2019
    My sense of humour is thriving, though.... not sure about all those pills the quacks want me to take... too many side-effects...

    Designer chocolate beer at midnight last night... not bad... from Tasmania ... Chrissie present....
    Polly Esther
    1st Jan 2019
    Me thinks Trebor is joshing, seems like he could do with another wine, a bottle or two or three :-))
    1st Jan 2019
    Sorry but I don't think health issues are a joke, I just want to spread love for the liver, it does a lot of work and most people abuse it, they will keep their house clean but not their liver. Drink lemon juice every morning to flush it and skip the alcohol which is the most damaging of all.

    Glad you are supporting local industries in Tassie Trebor.
    1st Jan 2019
    Ah.. Billy Connelly got it .. he said they tell you to eat all this fancy bread and the right stuff, and it'll give you an extra two weeks of life... but they don't give it to you when you're 35 and shagging like a stag.. you get it when you're lying in a nursing home on a rubber blanket....
    5th Jan 2019
    Yeah right, liver damage is almost always caused by alcohol but not quite true, there are other factors that can cause liver problems and mine was from glandular fever (Epstein-Barr virus) so I guess it is the poisons from medications, can be food preservatives, anything! We have no idea until we find out from routine blood tests, MRI or other ways. What can we do if we HAVE to take medications? I don't even believe in taking the stupid cholesterol tablets because they cause me more muscular pain, another poison for the poor liver to cope with. I know our liver is precious and it works hard. Look after it. I hate alcohol anyway.
    29th May 2019
    Thanks, TREBOR, for that little ray of Sunshine and healthy whiff of Fresh Air you fanned into the grey clouds of gloom and doom that prevail on this site.
    I suspect you may be an OBE like me - I'm Over Bloody Eighty - old enough and wise enough to know that Laughter is the best medicine!

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