Your liver is the largest gland found in your body that is responsible for the performance of several functions, including:
- Synthesizing compounds
- Regulating your metabolism
- Detoxifying waste metabolites
- Regulating your body systems
The brownish-red colored liver has a shape that is somewhat triangular. It weighs about three and a half pounds. There is a protective capsule around your liver, and it includes numerous pain receptors. If your liver becomes swollen or inflamed, it may exert pressure on the capsule that protects it. This can cause liver pain.
What Does Liver Pain Feel Like?
Liver pain can be difficult to identify, since it may present as a dull ache in the area of the stomach and its surrounding area. In addition, the symptoms vary from one person to the next. Typical symptoms of liver pain can be described as:
- Generalized abdominal pain that can also radiate to your back
- Stabbing pain that usually occurs in the upper abdomen
- Constant, dull pain in your upper abdominal quadrant
- Pain that is worse when you cough
You should know that there are common symptoms, sometimes overlooked, accompanying liver pain:
- Itching on the surface of the skin
- Appearance of spots and rash on your skin
- Eyes may appear yellow-colored
- Dark circles may appear around your eyes
- Sharp body odor
- Excessive sweating
- Concentrated, dark urine
- Discolored bowel movements
- Bad breath
- Redness and inflammation of skin on the palms or your hands and/or the soles of your feet
- Generalized body aches
- Joint pain
- Yellow colored skin, like jaundice
What are the Causes of Liver Pain?
In addition to understanding what liver pain can feel like, you also need to know what causes that pain. Here are some common pain causes:
- Alcohol-related liver disease
If you use alcohol excessively, this may lead to chronic disorders including liver fibrosis. The most common symptoms include:
- Pale skin
- Weight gain
- Sleep loss
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive thirst
- Abdominal ache and tenderness
- Confusion and hallucinations
How to treat it
Stopping alcohol drinking is the main measure to take. You may eat carb-, protein- and calorie-rich foods, take medications to help you stop drinking, and join a self-help group. If your liver is profoundly dysfunctional from drinking, your only therapeutic option is a liver transplant.
- Acetaminophen (like Tylenol®, etc.)
Acetaminophen is a drug used widely for managing minor health problems like inflammation and pain. The problem occurs when excessive intake of this drug can lead to an over-accumulation in your liver, which causes liver pain and hepatic toxicity.
This type of liver pain can be accompanied by:
- Pain on upper right side of abdomen
- Flu like symptoms
- Whitening of the skin
- Yellowing of the eyes
- Dark urine
- Itchy skin
- Cirrhosis of the Liver
This liver disease develops gradually, deteriorating the health of your liver. In it, your healthy liver tissues are replaced with scarred tissue. Gradually, the blood flow to the liver will be blocked, leaving the liver not able to process toxins. It can even lead to eventual death. Some cirrhosis symptoms include:
- Easy bruising
- Type 2 diabetes
- Insulin resistance
- Itching on the hands and the feet
- Abdominal pain
Liver transplants are the only available cure for cirrhosis of the liver. You can ease your suffering somewhat by limiting your drinking and smoking.
- Primary Liver Cancer
When the cells in your liver multiply abnormally, liver cancer occurs. This is not easy to detect in its early stages. Some common symptoms include:
- Nausea & vomiting
- White eyes
- Appetite and weight loss
- Liver pain caused by enlargement
Treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, ablation, radiofrequency and liver transplant.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and the deterioration of the liver cells. There are various types and levels of severity. They vary, according to the process of the primary disease. Some common symptoms may include:
- Dark urine
- Abdominal pain
- Enlarged liver
The treatment options depend on how severe your condition is. Antiviral agent drugs can be helpful. You also need to eat healthy foods and supplement any vitamins you don’t get from your diet.
- Cysts in the Liver
Cysts are fluid-filled, thin-walled cavities. They do not normally cause discomfort and treatment is not needed. However, if they enlarge, they can put pressure on other organs, or rupture. This leads to liver pain that may radiate to the upper quadrant of the abdomen.
Some cysts may go away on their own. Fluids can be drained, which provides temporary relief. In more serious cases, cyst removal will be advised.
- Fatty Liver Disease
The liver normally has some fat, but if the fat makes up over 10% of the weight of your liver, this is a fatty liver. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Liver pain
Eating balanced meals may help with this condition. Exercise in a reasonable way and ask your physician if there are some medications that will help. If your case is extreme, only transplantation can help.
- Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
PSC is an inflammation of the bile duct and liver. It results in scarring of the liver and the appearance of more fibrous tissues. It develops quite slowly, and it may take years for some symptoms to appear. In addition to liver pain, it may cause:
- Severe itchiness
Medication may be helpful in relieving the symptoms of inflammation and itchiness. The only cure is a liver transplant.