Liver is the largest gland in our body which is found on the abdomen below the diaphragm. Liver is responsible for the synthesis of bile, a special enzyme which is vital for digesting fat molecules. Liver is the organ that controls various metabolic activities, homeostatic process and maintains blood sugar level and excretes toxic substances from the body.
It is not easy to identify liver pain from pains in other organs of the abdomen. The pain receptors of the liver lie covering its surface like a capsule form and pain is felt only if the capsule form is forced with pressure. Liver pain is felt on the upper right portion of the abdomen and sometimes under the rib cage. Liver pain is often caused due to inflammation of liver or any other serious injury.
Liver pain can be of varying degree ranging from mild to sharp intense pain. Pain is felt on the upper right portion of the stomach. It is difficult to predict the exact cause of liver pain and can only be diagnosed using liver function tests and urine test. Often, liver pain is caused due to consumption of excess of alcohol.
Liver Pain Causes
Liver pain is felt on the right upper abdominal area. This can be caused due to gallstone formation and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Number of conditions and diseases can cause liver pain. Some of them are listed below.
- Hepatitis : Liver gets swollen due to intake of poison, alcohol, infectious diseases, autoimmunity disorders and overdoses of drugs. Generally hepatitis is referred to viral infections that cause symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice and muscular weakness.
- Alcoholic hepatitis is caused when a person is habituated to drinking alcohol daily. It can cause irreversible damage to the liver. Some of the signs of this disease are dry mouth, excess of thirst, edema, dark skin and loss of memory. It can also cause aggressive behavior, mood changes, tingling sensation or numbness in hands and limbs.
- Certain types of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, Grave’s disease, Type 1 diabetes, systemic Lupus can affect liver causing inflammation. This may produce symptoms like severe pain in the liver, abdominal pain, discomfort or uneasiness in the stomach region, fatigue and fever.
- Toxic hepatitis is caused due to the intake of poisonous foods and chemicals including drug and substance. This causes serious liver damage and can be fatal.
- Fatty liver disease is a condition in which excess of fat molecules gets collected in the liver causing edema or swelling, high blood pressure and liver failure. It can happen due to consumption of excess alcohol, obesity, malnutrition, infections and due to certain powerful drugs.
- Liver cirrhosis is the terminal stage of liver disease mostly causing death. Group of dead tissue gets collected in the liver which impairs the functions of the liver. It would also compress and cause pressure on the veins present inside the liver causing portal hypertension.
- Liver cyst is the condition in which abnormal fluid gets collected on the sacs of the liver causing sharp pain on the right shoulder and right abdomen.
- Liver cancer can also cause liver pain apart from other vital symptoms like loss of weight, anorexia nervosa and fatigue.
Some of the common signs of liver pain can produce nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, lethargy, pain in the right abdomen, bloated sensation and difficulty or discomfort in the stomach. Liver pain can be felt with symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal swelling and passing of dark colored stools. These symptoms indicate problems in gastro intestine. Individuals with pain in the right abdomen, with breathing difficulty should seek immediate medical care since it can be due to portal hypertension.
In case the doctor cannot diagnose the reason for liver pain he may order for liver function tests and urine test.
Treatment can be given after finding out the underlying factor that causes liver pain. You can get temporary relief by taking anti inflammatory drugs, and analgesics.