Could You Have a Low-Functioning Liver? 6 Sneaky Signs of Liver Damage

February 14, 2022

Have you noticed changes in your health recently but can't quite pinpoint the cause? If so, it may be time to get your liver evaluated.

Sometimes the signs of liver damage can be confused with other conditions, and because the liver is responsible for filtering out toxins, it's a critical organ for optimal health.

So, let’s take a look at some of the signs of liver damage and then discuss how to get your liver tested and what to do if you suspect it's in trouble.


The Role of the Liver

As we’ve discussed previously, while your liver is a part of your gastrointestinal system, its functions extend beyond simply producing bile for digestion.

The liver is not only responsible for removing harmful substances from your blood and routing clean blood to other organs for use, but it also helps to remove immune threats from your body, such as viruses or bacteria.

In fact, one of your liver’s unique jobs is to determine if a substance is harmful and begin to facilitate its removal. To learn more about this process, click here.

Lastly, it is also involved in many other aspects of your health, including:

  • balancing your hormones
  • blood clotting
  • converting glucose, amino acids, and fats into energy
  • managing fluid retention, iron storage, cholesterol transport, and inflammation
  • And more!

Remember, your liver is responsible for facilitating more than 500 vital bodily functions. It has multiple tasks to complete at the same time, so it has to decide which tasks are the most life-threatening and which can be saved for later. Then, it handles those tasks in order of priority.

For example, your liver filters about 1.7 liters of blood per minute in your body, and that responsibility will take priority over smaller responsibilities.

As you can see, your liver is involved in many of your bodily processes. So, when something is wrong with it, the symptoms can manifest in many different ways. Let’s take a look at some of the top signs of liver damage.


6 Signs of Liver Damage

Sometimes the signs of liver damage can be easily mistaken for other health concerns or disorders. Here are six of the top signs you may have a problem with your liver and should consider getting it tested.

1. Fatigue and daytime sleepiness

When your liver isn’t functioning optimally, it isn’t ridding your body of toxins or properly creating energy, which can leave you feeling exhausted. Plus, a low-functioning liver can impact your adrenal health, resulting in fatigue.

Additionally, the very same stress that causes adrenal fatigue impacts your liver function as well. It can be a vicious cycle.

In fact, one of the top signs of liver damage is fatigue, occurring in up to 85 percent of people with varying degrees of liver damage. [1] But because fatigue is quite common, signs of liver damage can be mistaken for something else.

Here are a few conditions that can be confused with the fatigue caused by a low-functioning liver:

  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Insomnia
  • Stress

2. Problems with memory and concentration

One of the top signs of liver damage is an impairment in your memory and/or ability to concentrate. And, once again, this is due to the low-functioning liver’s inability to remove the buildup of toxins in your body and the nutritional impact from the liver slowing other important functions.

So, how common is it to have memory problems as a result of liver damage? Studies have shown that up to 55 percent of those with severe liver damage display signs of cognitive impairment. [2]

But because we don’t typically equate issues with memory and concentration with the signs of liver damage, this sign is often mistaken with other conditions, such as the following:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Dementia
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Stress

3. Loss of appetite

Remember how your liver is actually a part of your digestive system? Well, the result of that is the fact that one of the major signs of liver damage is a loss of appetite.

This often happens as a result of digestive discomfort (such as bloating) and episodes of nausea and/or vomiting.

Because nausea and vomiting are linked to a myriad of health concerns, it’s actually common for this sign of liver damage to be confused with one of the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Eating disorder
  • Hormone imbalance(s)
  • Stress
  • Thyroid disorder

4. Abdominal pain/bloating

Once again, the fact that the liver is part of the digestive system plays a role here. But there’s more to the picture as well.

When you have a low-functioning liver, over time, it could lead to an imbalance of proteins in your body. This can cause fluid to build up in your abdomen, leading to pain and bloating, which is one of the major signs of liver damage.

But with our modern lifestyles and overall poor dietary choices, abdominal pain and bloating have become fairly common. [3] Accordingly, here are a few conditions more commonly associated with pain and bloating that could lead to a misdiagnosis:

  • Appendicitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gas
  • Stomach virus
  • Ulcerative colitis

5. Nausea and/or vomiting

Think about the last time you vomited. Odds are that you either ate something that made you sick or you had some sort of stomach bug. Either way, it was your body’s attempt to remove a toxin—what it determined was a threat.

Because your liver’s primary function is to eliminate toxins from your body, a low-functioning liver becomes unable to do that, resulting in a buildup of toxins in your body.

The result? Nausea and vomiting—your body’s attempt to remove the toxin. But, yet again, nausea is quite commonly linked to other conditions more so than one of the signs of liver damage, you may be misdiagnosed with one of the following:

  • Food poisoning
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Indigestion
  • Motion sickness
  • Stress

6. Abnormal bruising

Finally, one of the signs of liver damage is experiencing abnormal bruising. Here’s why: Your liver is actually responsible for producing the proteins your body needs to help your blood clot.

The result? You bleed and bruise more easily when you have a low-functioning liver. Now, liver damage doesn’t immediately come to mind when you start to notice bruising, so here are a few conditions it may be confused with:

  • Anemia
  • Blood disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Vitamin deficiencies


Signs of liver damage - Dr. Pingel


What to Do If You Suspect You Have Liver Damage

If you have one or more of the symptoms above, you may begin to suspect that you have some of the signs of liver damage.

If that’s the case, consider having your doctor run some lab work to test your liver enzymes, and discuss the proper protocol that’s best for you if your results indicate liver damage.

But what should you do if you’re showing signs of liver damage but your results come back in the normal range?

In addition to consulting with your primary physician, I recommend engaging in a short dietary detox designed to help your liver rid itself of any stored toxins, which enables it to work more efficiently.

To begin your detox, check out my article on the top five foods to detox your liver. It’s a great place to start.

But then I want to encourage you to check out my 7-day detox as well, which will take out all the guesswork and help you begin to feel better in as little as a week! After all, why wait to take charge of your health and feel your best?

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