Liver: Early detection of disorders and damage

Liver: Early detection of disorders and damage

The liver is the central organ of human metabolism. It plays a decisive role in nutrient utilization, storage and breakdown, producing numerous essential substances such as coagulation factors and antibodies. As a vital detoxification organ, it is exposed to various damaging influences and can regenerate enormously. Since it does not contain any nerves and does not emit pain signals, damage to the liver often only becomes apparent at a late stage. Can a feeling of pressure under the ribs indicate a liver disorder? What are the typical symptoms of liver disease, and how do fatty foods and alcohol endanger liver health?

Dr. Medical In this interview, Vinzenz Mansmann answers the most frequently asked questions about preventing liver diseases.

If you think about your everyday practice – how much do patients know about their liver?

Mansmann: Unfortunately, many people don’t know their liver; only some know it is right below the ribs. It has over 370 divisions and 500 billion cells and is the body’s major chemical factory. Unfortunately, or better fortunately, she doesn’t have any pain nerves; otherwise, every sip of alcohol would hurt. But as the saying goes: “The pain of the liver is fatigue .”

Significantly, a false sense of security often arises when the family doctor takes the three known liver values ​​: GOT, GPT and GGT. If they are normal, that does not mean that all 370 departments of the Leber company are in order.

The gallbladder, i.e. the reservoir of the liver, has many pain nerves, and a trapped gallstone can cause terrible colic, quickly driving you to the doctor.


How can you tell for yourself if the liver is healthy?

Mansmann: As mentioned, a weak or sick liver makes you tired, especially after lunch – then you almost need a nap. In the evening, many then sleep in front of the television.

At night, on the other hand, according to 2,000-year-old acupuncture theory, the liver’s central working time is from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. and above a certain degree of damage, it is precisely at this time that you have trouble sleeping through the night. It can also be 4 a.m. if the liver has yet to go through the daylight saving time changeover.

Many liver signs can be read on the face:

  • brownish rims around the eyes after a night of drinking
  • small yellowish fat lumps around the eyes (xanthelasma)
  • yellowish-brown discoloration around the mouth
  • punctiform haemorrhages on the cheeks
  • yellow discolouration of the whites of the eyes (“jaundice”)

Sometimes spider web-like vasodilatations (spider naevi) can be found on the body, indicating liver disease. Liver disorders can also cause skin itching and tingling, even without an allergy. “Stinging nettle rashes” ( urticaria ) also have something to do with the liver and can heal with liver treatment.

How else do liver problems manifest themselves?

Mansmann: But the most common signs are flatulence, a feeling of fullness, constipation or diarrhoea – sometimes alternating, fat intolerance, alcohol intolerance. A feeling of pressure under the right costal arch is relatively rare, especially when lying down or bending over if there is a bile stasis or gallbladder inflammation at the same time.

Since the liver is responsible for breaking down hormones, undetected liver diseases such as reduced libido or erectile dysfunction, breast enlargement in men, and, above all, migraines often occur.


What are liver protection first aid measures?

Mansmann: The best plants for liver regeneration are milk thistle (Carduus marianus) and artichoke (Cynaria scolymus). Milk thistle as a tea is very bitter, and patients do not hold out for long, so capsules should be preferred because they should usually be taken for a whole year.

What can you do to preventively and permanently keep your liver healthy?

Mansmann: Of course, avoid alcohol, eat a low-fat diet and, above all, reduce stress and excessive demands. Some of today’s liver diseases are stress-related and the result of suppressed anger. “The bile comes up” or “The louse ran over your liver” is what the vernacular says.

Who needs special attention to their liver?

Mansmann: The alcoholics, of course, but that’s obvious. What is not so well known is that stress and anger often cause liver damage and that long-term consumption of large amounts of raw food in the evening can put a strain on the liver. So after 7 p.m., eat as little raw food as possible, such as salads and vegetables.

Hepatitis can also go undetected because some young and healthy people do not turn yellow with hepatitis but are tired for only three months, for example.

Other viruses, such as Epstein-Barr-Pfeiffer’s disease, often cause unrecognized liver inflammation and can leave lifelong damage. However, the doctor can examine this in the blood if you point it out.


At what point does alcohol consumption become critical for the liver?

Mansmann: Men generally tolerate more alcohol than women because of their more significant liver and greater muscle mass compared to fat mass. It is also crucial whether alcohol consumption is infrequent or daily.

As a rule of thumb, half a litre of beer or a quarter of a litre of wine daily does not cause liver damage in men. But a full litre of beer or half a litre of wine a day causes measurable liver damage over time.

Anyone who drinks 2 to 3 litres of beer once at the weekend but then does not drink alcohol for six days hardly needs to fear liver damage. It would be different if Schnapps were also drunk. For women, slightly less applies, depending on body weight. A 50 kg woman can only take half as much as an 80 kg man.

Fatty food: when does it become critical for the liver?

Mansmann: If the bile department of the liver is disturbed, it manifests itself in a feeling of pressure in the upper right abdomen, in light-coloured stools, in intestinal rumours, flatulence, diarrhoea or constipation. If the bile duct is blocked by stones, inflammation or cramps, which can also be psychological, the stool can even turn completely grey-white.

These patients should avoid oils, especially if heated above 60 degrees. You should eat butter, cook and fry with butter or clarified butter and only use cold-pressed safflower or olive oil in salads.

Is liver disease an affluence syndrome?

Mansmann: You can say yes to that. Too much alcohol, too much toxins such as environmental toxins, chemical drugs, heavy metals in teeth or cosmetics, and too much stress and anger that has been swallowed. In addition, you are overeating with too much fat and meat as well as too little liquid per day with a simultaneous lack of exercise.

The body detoxifies via the liver, the intestines, the kidneys and, above all, through sweating. Each week, the sauna does a lot for detoxification.


How can the yellowing of the skin and conjunctiva, typical for liver problems, be explained?

Mansmann: When red blood cells break down, the blood pigment haemoglobin is produced. It is released into the intestine as yellow-greenish bilirubin from the liver via the bile.

If the liver is weak or inflamed or the bile ducts are blocked, this yellow pigment remains in the blood and accumulates throughout the body, especially in the skin. In the so-called areas with little current, such as in the eye and its immediate vicinity, and on the backs of hands and feet, you can see the intense yellow colour best.

What else can be the causes of liver diseases?

Mansmann:  A diet that is too high in fat can cause fatty liver hepatitis, as well as autoimmune diseases of the liver and tumours, which are generally rare.


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