Liver pain: How do you know if your liver is hurting?

Liver pain is pain that occurs on the right side under the ribs. It can be of different severity depending on the cause. Pain may be transient or chronic, but it should by no means be underestimated. Liver pain, especially frequent, acute, or chronic, should prompt you to see a doctor.

Liver pain can make life difficult. A sick liver may be asymptomatic for a long time because this organ has a great regenerative capacity and can work efficiently with minor damage. Acute chronic pain usually occurs when overloaded hepatocytes (liver cells) are unable to perform their functions and organ damage is severe.

The liver is a large organ and it performs important various functions: 

  • produces, stores and releases glucose
  • converts carbohydrates and proteins into fats
  • it produces most of all plasma proteins
  • accumulation of vitamin reserves
  • neutralizes toxins and has a detoxifying function
  • heme is transformed in the liver
  • produces bile necessary for the digestion of fats
  • performs defensive / autoimmune functions

Since the liver is not innervated, it is believed that it should not hurt. However, there is a serous membrane around the organ, which, when it begins to be compressed by an enlarged liver, can cause excruciating pain.

How do you know if your liver is hurting?

The liver is located in the right hypochondrium under the diaphragm, partially passing into the upper epigastrium and left hypochondrium. Liver pain may be a stinging in the right side under the ribs or gentle stretching in these areas.

Why does the liver hurt?

Liver pain may be caused by its enlargement and compression of adjacent tissues and organs. The cause of pain in the liver area may also be hepatic (biliary) colic, i.e. a situation when the gall bladder is full of bile that cannot flow freely due to the resulting deposits. The follicle then contracts more intensively, which causes pain.

Liver pain can occur after a heavy meal because a lot of fat has to be digested, meaning the liver has to produce more bile and work harder. Usually, however, it is temporary pain accompanied by bloating, belching, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.

Liver pain can be caused by liver inflammation or cirrhosis, as well as by infections, bruises, and toxic damage. Liver diseases in the course of which pain may occur are most often caused by alcohol or drug abuse, viruses (hepatitis A, B, and C), poisoning.

What are home remedies for liver pain?

Liver pain can be relieved by drinking infusions of herbs such as dandelion and milk thistle.

Pain can be avoided by adding turmeric, thyme, marjoram, cumin, mint, oregano, juniper to the dishes, as they accelerate digestion. However, you should avoid pepper, curry, savory, hot pepper, vinegar, and mustard, as well as garlic, because they are difficult to digest and irritate the liver.

To minimize the risk of liver pain, remember not to eat greedily, but to chew each bite after eating. It is worth limiting animal fats, fried and grilled food in favor of a plant-based diet, or simply one rich in vegetables (preferably cooked).

Remember, if liver pain is severe or persistent, see your doctor. This could be a symptom of a serious illness.


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