3 Signs of Advanced Liver Damage

May 7th 2016

In many cases, advanced liver damage is irreversible, as the organ is scarred beyond repair. However, individuals with liver-based illnesses such as hepatitis can often lower their risk of complete liver failure with medication, surgical procedures and lifestyle changes, such as abstaining from alcohol and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Severe Itching

When the liver is severely scarred, it can cause blockages to the bile ducts that release toxins from the liver. Excess bile buildup beneath the skin can result in intense itching. In addition to itching, individuals with bile obstruction may also experience darkened skin around the eyes and excess fluid in the ankles.

Memory and Concentration Problems

Severe scarring of the liver inhibits the overall function of the organ, which can lead to an increase in toxins in the bloodstream. Over time, these toxins can reach the brain, causing memory problems, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances and impaired mental functioning.


Jaundice is a medical condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow in color. It commonly occurs in individuals with liver damage and liver failure. In healthy individuals, the organ works to break down and filter out old blood cells and toxins. When the substances are broken down, they become yellow in color and are referred to as bilirubin. Bilirubin is typically eliminated from the body through the stool. When the liver is damaged, it cannot process bilirubin properly, which can cause it to build up inside the body and lead to jaundice.

Total Loss of Liver Function

When the liver stops functioning completely, a number of symptoms can occur that require immediate medical treatment. The first symptoms of complete liver failure include nausea and diarrhea. While these warning signs can indicate mild conditions such as stomach flu or general stomach upset, individuals with existing liver conditions should seek medical attention immediately if they experience any of these abdominal symptoms. Additional symptoms may include disorientation, exhaustion and confusion.


Advanced liver damage, also known as cirrhosis, is a condition in which the liver becomes severely scarred and begins to fail. Liver damage is a common result of alcoholism, but can also occur in individuals with liver disease and hepatitis. Prior to developing cirrhosis, individuals with liver diseases typically develop fibrosis, a condition in which the liver becomes mildly scarred with fibrous tissue. If the illness is treated during this stage, the liver may still naturally repair itself. Individuals with liver conditions need to educate themselves on the common signs of advanced liver damage, as recognizing them can help ensure the timely detection and treatment of potentially life-threatening symptoms.

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