Liver failure signs and symptoms


Your liver is a vital organ to your body. It cleanses toxins from your body, helps fight infection, and helps digestion.

The liver has to work harder to cleanse toxins like drugs and alcohol from your body. Overworking your liver can lead to liver failure. There are both early and end-stage symptoms of liver failure.

Warning Signs of Liver Failure Photo Courtesy Shutterstock
Warning Signs of Liver Failure Photo Courtesy Shutterstock

Early Symptoms

Many of the early symptoms of liver failure are not noticeable. Liver inflammation oftentimes occurs in those who abuse drugs or alcohol. Inflammation of the liver is often not noticeable unless you are specifically tested for it. Liver inflammation can lead to fibrosis, also known as scar tissue. If fibrosis is untreated, end-stage liver failure will begin.


Cirrhosis occurs when liver cells are injured and killed. It is the end result of chronic liver failure. Chronic liver failure has three phases: inflammation of the liver, fibrosis, and then cirrhosis. When liver cells die, the liver inflames and attempts to repair itself, leading to fibrosis, which eventually leads to cirrhosis. Many of the symptoms of liver disease are not readily recognizable as indicators of liver disease.


Jaundice is an end-stage symptom of liver disease. Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin. This is caused by the accumulation of bilirubin in your blood. When your liver isn’t functioning properly, it cannot properly cleanse the excess bilirubin from your body.


Fatigue is the condition that makes you feel constantly drained and tired. It is an early and end-stage warning sign of liver disease. It can be either mental or physical fatigue or even both. You may feel lethargic or exhausted even when you haven’t exerted much physical or mental energy.


Weakness occurs when the strength in your muscles decreases. When you have liver disease, you oftentimes experience weakness. Weakness is different from fatigue in that it affects your muscle function rather than how you feel.

Loss of Appetite

People with liver disease oftentimes experience a loss of appetite. They do not experience hunger as readily since their bodies are weighted down with toxins that their livers are unable to process. They may even experience nausea at the thought of food. This symptom leads to a decrease in weight and overall health since the body is not getting the nutrients that it needs to function properly.

Easy Bruising and Bleeding

Another sign of liver disease is when you bruise and bleed easily. When your liver isn’t functioning properly, your blood cannot clot properly. Therefore, you will bruise and bleed much more easily than you would otherwise. It may take much longer for you to stop bleeding after cutting your skin than it normally would have taken before you developed liver disease.

Confusion and Memory Lapses

Yet another symptom of liver disease is confusion and lapses in memory. You may feel disoriented at times and find that you cannot remember simple facts or details. This symptom occurs when the excess toxins in your body reach your brain and affect it.

Liver Failure

If cirrhosis goes untreated, you will begin to go into liver failure. As that happens, all of the above symptoms will become more severe. You may even begin to experience severe itching, and your extreme tiredness could cause you to slip into a coma. (