Enlarged Liver Symptoms

Enlarged liver symptoms typically indicate that an individual has liver trouble, and one of several possible diseases is developing in this important organ which largely controls metabolic function. Without treatment, it could lead to liver failure. Once it fails, the only way to keep a patient alive is through a transplant.

As with most forms of liver disease, there are no early symptoms. But if the enlarged liver is not diagnosed and treated, the liver will eventually become so large that the following symptoms will begin to appear.

  • Pain in the abdomen and a feeling of fullness
  • There will be an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen known as ascites
  • A lack of appetite or desire for food
  • Painful joints and muscles
  • A cough that is not caused by a cold or the flu
  • Irregular bowel habits like constipation or diarrhea
  • Tiring easily, chronic fatigue and feelings of weakness
  • Occasional fevers, nausea and vomiting
  • Certain smells and odors that didn’t bother you before will become unpleasant
  • Urine will sometimes appear cloudy and dark
  • There will be an increased sensitivity to light known as photophobia
  • Jaundice, or a yellow appearance to the skin and the whites of the eyes

Jaundice is one of the few specific symptoms that can be linked to enlarged liver and other liver problems. Jaundice occurs when abnormal amounts of a bile pigment called bilirubin accumulate in the blood. Excessive bilirubin destroys to liver cells, causing liver inflammation and enlargement.

There are several other disorders that indicate that there’s some type of liver damage or disease in progress. One is cholestasis, which occurs something has blocked the flow of bile from the liver. Another is portal hypertension, which signals unusually high blood pressure in the portal vein. The portal vein carries blood from the intestine to the liver.

Ascites, or the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal area, is another symptom of an enlarged liver.

Liver tests are often needed to determine how far liver disease has progressed. These tests usually include a liver biopsy, liver function tests, an ultrasound or a CT scan.

The medical term for enlarged liver is hepatomegaly. Sometimes both the liver and spleen become enlarged simultaneously. When this happens, the disorder is called hepatosplenomegaly.