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Why Does My Liver Hurt

Why Does My Liver Hurt?: Understanding The Aches

Do you ever wake up in the morning, feeling liver discomfort, in the upper right abdomen, wondering, “Why does my liver hurt?” It’s quite a distressing sensation when the liver hurts.

In today’s blog, we’ll try to understand liver problems and abdominal pain – what it is, how it feels, liver pain causes, along with liver pain treatments.

What is Liver Pain?

The liver is a vital organ beneath your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen, which plays a crucial role in filtering toxins from your blood, producing bile for digestion, and storing energy.

When your liver hurts, medically termed hepatalgia, it refers to liver discomfort or dull aches in the upper right abdomen, often indicating underlying liver problems. 

Unlike pain from other organs, such as the stomach or intestines, liver pain burning typically manifests as a dull, throbbing sensation, sometimes accompanied by a feeling of fullness or tenderness in the area.

What Does Liver Pain Feel Like?

When your liver hurts, it can be described as a dull, aching sensation in the upper right abdomen, beneath the rib cage. It may also radiate to the back or shoulder, causing liver discomfort and tenderness. 

Some individuals liken the sensation to a pressure or fullness in the abdomen, rather than sharp or stabbing pain. It’s essential to distinguish liver pain from other types of abdominal pain, as its unique characteristics can provide valuable clues to underlying liver disease.

Connection Between Gallbladder and Liver Pain

The liver and gallbladder are closely interconnected organs, both involved in the digestion and processing of fats. Issues with one can often affect the other, leading to overlapping symptoms and confusion. 

Gallbladder pain, commonly associated with gallstones or inflammation, can sometimes mimic liver discomfort due to their proximity and shared nerve pathways. It’s crucial to differentiate between the two to accurately diagnose and treat the underlying cause of abdominal discomfort.

Liver Pain Causes

Liver pain and constipation can stem from various underlying conditions, ranging from mild to severe. Some common liver pain causes include:

  • Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, often caused by viral infections (hepatitis A, B, C), excessive alcohol consumption, or autoimmune diseases.
  • Fatty Liver Disease: Accumulation of fat in the liver, typically associated with obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, or excessive alcohol intake.
  • Liver Cirrhosis: Scarring of the liver tissue, usually resulting from chronic liver diseases like hepatitis or long-term alcohol abuse.
  • Liver Abscess: Pus-filled sacs within the liver, often caused by bacterial infections or parasites.
  • Liver Cancer: Malignant tumors that originate in the liver or spread from other parts of the body.

How to Treat Liver Pain?

Liver pain treatment depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Some common Liver pain treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Adopting a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and illicit drugs, and exercising regularly can help improve liver health.
  • Medications: Depending on the underlying condition, your doctor may prescribe medications to manage liver hurt symptoms, reduce liver inflammation, or treat underlying infections.
  • Liver Detoxification: Certain dietary supplements or detox programs may help support liver function and promote detoxification.
  • Surgical Intervention: In cases of severe pain, surgical procedures may be necessary to remove tumors, drain liver cysts, or transplant a damaged liver.

When to See a Doctor?

It’s essential to seek medical attention if you experience persistent or severe liver pain, as it could indicate a serious underlying condition. You should consult a doctor if you experience:

  • Persistent abdominal discomfort or tenderness.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite.
  • Changes in bowel habits or urine color.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the liver cause back pain?

Yes, liver-related issues can sometimes cause referred pain in the back.

Is liver pain constant?

Liver pain can vary from constant to intermittent, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.

Why is liver pain worse at night?

Liver pain may worsen at night due to changes in body position, reduced distraction, and increased sensitivity to discomfort during rest.

How do I know if my liver is okay?

Regular check-ups, blood tests, imaging scans, and monitoring for symptoms like jaundice, abdominal pain, and changes in appetite can help assess liver health.

Is liver pain unbearable?

Liver pain can range from mild discomfort to severe agony, depending on the underlying cause and individual pain tolerance. It's essential to seek medical attention for persistent or severe liver pain.

– Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health-related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 05/09/2024

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  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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