5. Digestive Problems
Liver damage can lead to intestinal permeability (“leaky gut“), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and a general slow-down of digestion due to changes to hormone levels and bile production. (9) Changes to toilet habits, lower abdominal discomfort, and chronic flatulence can signal liver distress.
6. Fatigue and Overall Weakness
As the liver gets tired, you might, too. Fatigue almost always accompanies autoimmune hepatitis and is the most common complaint of people with liver disease. The primary reason for general malaise appears to be the disruption of neurotransmission between the liver and the brain due to liver dysfunction.
Other factors that lead to the feeling of fatigue are behavioral, social, emotional, and cognitive in nature. People who know they’re sick are more likely to act sick. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective in dealing with the non-physical aspects of fatigue. Although you may not feel like it, regular physical activity is essential:
“…the maintenance of physical activity is of paramount importance. The natural inclination of patients with central fatigue is to decrease physical activity. However, decreased physical activity over time will lead to cardiovascular and muscular deconditioning, which then makes physical activity even more difficult.”(10)
7. Itchy Skin
It may seem weird but liver dysfunction can make your skin itch. Cholestasis is the restriction or stoppage of bile flow from the liver.
Pruritis (skin itching) sometimes occurs along with cholestasis, depending on the magnitude of the condition. The mechanism by which it occurs isn’t fully understood.
It’s theorized that there are steroidal agents produced during the synthesis of cholesterol via an alternate pathway (departing from the normal processing by the liver) that causes irritation and pruritis. (11)
Effective treatment depends on the person. Things to try:
- castor oil
- cannabis cream (12)
- stinging nettle tea
- oatmeal baths
- capsaicin (cayenne pepper)
- apple cider vinegar (raw, organic, unfiltered)
- guava leaves
- essential oils