Hepatic Disease: Signs, Symptoms, And Diagnosing

Health & Medical Blog

Hepatic disease, also known as liver disease, can be acquired as a result of certain medications, alcoholism, obesity, and viral infections. It can also be congenital, which means that you were born with it. Sometimes, liver disease is asymptomatic, however, it commonly causes signs and symptoms. Here are some common signs and symptoms of hepatic disease and how physicians diagnose it. 

Signs And Symptoms

During your physical examination, your physician will examine your body to see if you have yellowing of the skin or sclera of your eyes. This yellowing is known as jaundice and this sign is commonly seen in people with liver disease, gallbladder disorders, and pancreatic conditions.

Your physician will also ask you about any unusual symptoms such as severe itching, dark urine, pale stools, frequent abdominal pain, diarrhea, and unintentional weight loss, as these symptoms are often associated with liver disease. Itching and tea-colored urine in people with liver disease is caused by the overproduction of bilirubin, a yellow-orange pigmented substance found in bile. Once liver disease has been successfully treated, jaundice typically resolves and other symptoms subside as well. 


Your doctor will also palpate your abdominal organs to assess them for swelling. Your liver is located in the upper right quadrant of your abdominal cavity and if this area feels inflamed, your physician may recommend further testing. A blood test known as a chemistry profile may also be recommended to help evaluate your hepatic function. The test may reveal high liver enzymes and elevated bilirubin, and while these rises may be caused by viruses or certain medications, further testing may be needed to make a diagnosis.

If your blood chemistry profile is abnormal, an ultrasound of your liver may be warranted. This safe procedure uses sound waves to take pictures of your internal organs. Unlike a regular X-ray, an ultrasound does not use radiation, and because of this, is very safe for assessing liver function in pediatric patients.

Once your physician has confirmed or ruled out liver disease, a treatment plan can be implemented to alleviate your symptoms. If warranted, your primary care doctor will refer you to either a hepatologist, a liver specialist, a gastroenterologist, or a gastrointestinal specialist for further evaluation.

If you develop any of the above signs and symptoms of liver disease, see your physician as soon as possible. When hepatic disorders are diagnosed and treated early in their progression, a very favorable outcome is more likely. Contact a physician to learn more. 


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