Discomfort and pain in the liver: Symptoms and causes

The liver is probably one of the most important organs of our body, probably because of the large number of functions carried out every day, allowing us – in general – enjoy good health if we do not suffer any disease or disorder, and if we follow a lifestyle as healthy as possible.

liver pain

Among those most important basic functions we can mention the storage of fats and cholesterol production, secretion of bile, synthesis of fatty acids and glycogen, production of proteins for blood plasma or processing of alcohol and some drugs for disposal through urine. That is, it is a body responsible for certain essential functions of our metabolism.

As surely you know, it has a reddish brown color, more or less triangular form, although it can weigh half a kilo and stands out as the largest glandular organ. We found it on the right side of the abdominal cavity, particularly just below the diaphragm, near the stomach.

Can you hurt the liver?

When we have the sick liver, either by certain disorders that directly affect the body or the abuse of toxic substances to the same form (such as may be the case of alcohol and drugs) is very usual feeling some discomfort – or pain – in the area of the abdomen where precisely the liver is located.

Unlike what is wrongly thinks, the truth is that the liver can hurt itself, especially if there are certain diseases or disorders that are affecting it. For example, the liver can be found inflamed and enlarged in size, either by excessive fat storage (medical condition known by the name of fatty liver) or by tracking certain behaviors (such as excessive drinking, overweight or habitual drug consumption).

Symptoms of liver pain

Although not usually as usual to talk about pain or discomfort in the liver, the truth is that it is neither appropriate nor wise to ignore all those symptoms related to this organ, as ultimately may be an indication of possible liver injury (actually by a wide variety of causes).

In many cases liver pain tends to be confused with other types of discomfort in the abdomen, leading to confusion. However, liver pain often tends to be experienced as a dull ache that is in the area located in the right upper abdomen, specifically below the ribs. In general, this discomfort or pain is usually constant.

We must bear in mind that sometimes it can be accompanied by abdominal pain or back pain. Therefore usually very common to confusing the liver pain with kidney pain with back pain or abdominal pain, because the liver is located in that area. Hence, we must always look at its location: liver pain tends to start on the right side of the abdomen or back, under the ribs.

Other related symptoms

When the liver is sick, it is usually common that also occur or other symptoms appear related to the pain liver. For example, skin and eyes may turn yellow, urine may be dark and pale stools, sometimes rashes in skin and itching may appear and feel symptoms similar to the flu.

It is also common that there is a loss of appetite and weight, as well as being accompanied by fatigue.

What are the causes of liver pain?

The causes that may be causing the onset of discomfort or pain in the liver are actually quite different. Here we summarize the most common:

Inflammation and enlarged liver: Medically known by the name of hepatomegaly, it consists of widening the liver beyond its normal size, in a way that their edges tend to exceed their limits and cause discomfort. It can be caused in turn by alcohol, excessive presence of fat in the liver, hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, leukemia, sarcoidosis or Reye’s syndrome.

Hepatitis: Either hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, is an inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection. This infection can subside spontaneously or evolve to fibrosis, cirrhosis or cancer. For example, in the case of hepatitis A and E are usually caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water, while hepatitis B, C and D are produced by transmission with contaminated blood products or blood transfusions.

Cirrhosis: It consists in the healing and the poor functioning of the liver, characterized by being the last phase of chronic liver disease. Among its most common causes we can mention alcoholism and infection by hepatitis B or C.