9 Things Your Feet Can Tell You About Your Liver Problems
Liver problems leave some clues behind, but they may be difficult to catch. If you can’t drag your feet to the clinic, at least look at it.
Symptoms of Liver Problems You Need to Watch Out For
Signs of Liver Problems You Can See
1. Reddish, Brownish Spots on Your Legs
What it might tell you: Poor circulation
Check your lower legs for reddish or brownish spots. It may be a sign of poor circulation that could be related to multiple conditions.
The heart pumps blood up to your brain and all that way down to your feet. Because the muscle needs to supply your feet with blood and then bring it back through the vascular system, your feet, furthest from your heart, could be a telltale sign of a problem.
And a sign of poor circulation could mean a problem with your heart or liver.
Symptoms of conditions like diabetes might also manifest in your legs and feet.
Spots on your feet and legs may not immediately mean you have heart, liver, or kidney issues. But they may warrant a visit to your podiatrist. Your doctor will then decide if you need to see a specialist about your symptom.
A podiatrist may also give you advice on proper foot care.
2. Spider Veins
What it might tell you: High levels of estrogen
Spider veins, or spider nevus, are a common indicator of a liver problem. These are a red web-like or spidery group of vessels. Unlike varicose veins, spider veins do not bulge.
They may cause some discomfort, but they’re not always dangerous. But in some cases, they may be a symptom of cirrhosis.
Patients with cirrhosis tend to have higher estrogen levels.
The vascular system works like a one-way road. And there are valves in your veins to make sure that the blood travels in one direction. But estrogen could weaken the valves. As a result, the blood may back up into the vein. It then causes the vein to swell.
- family history
- sitting or standing too long
- blood clots
- hormone therapy
Spider veins on healthy people and pregnant women may not be a cause for concern. But if you are experiencing other symptoms, a visit to your doctor is your first line of defense.
3. Cracked Heels
What it might tell you: Vitamin deficiency
Cracked heels are dry and flaky. It could be hard to catch them if you often wear closed shoes. But if you do spot them, the next thing you might want to look at is your diet.
One of the functions of the liver is to create and secrete bile. Bile acids or salts absorb fat-soluble vitamins and fats.
Malnutrition is common in people with cirrhosis. It may be because the liver’s ability to store and absorb vitamins is damaged. So you may not be getting enough of vitamins A, D, B, and E.
Before self-diagnosing, take a look at your diet. Does your diet include all the essential vitamins and minerals you need?
But if you’re experiencing other symptoms, a visit to your doctor wouldn’t hurt.
4. Pitting Edema
What it might tell you: Cirrhosis
Pitting edema (swelling) is when you can imprint a dent on swollen legs.
In liver failure, fluids may back up in your veins and spill out your veins. Then the fluids—pulled down by gravity—could travel to and accumulate in your legs. This will cause your legs to swell.
Again, there are some non-threatening causes of edema, including pregnancy or sitting or standing too long.
More serious causes that will require your immediate attention may include:
- congestive heart failure
- kidney disease
If your edema persists, have it checked out by your doctor. While some cases will go away on their own, some cases may require long-term care.
5. White Nail Beds
What it might tell you: Terry’s nails
Manicures and pedicures are great. They give you a neater and (literally) more polished appearance. But healthy nails are not just cosmetic.
Healthy nails have a pink nail bed and a white lunula (the semi-circle at the base of the nail). But with Terry’s nails, your nail bed may become white and you lose your lunula completely.
There is no treatment for Terry’s nails, but it’s important to pay attention to them. They could point to serious conditions, and early diagnosis is often key to recovery.
6. Fungal Infections
What it might tell you: Overgrowth of fungus
Liver problems may cause an overgrowth of fungus in your body and may manifest as toenail fungus.
DISCLAIMER: Do not take this as medical advice. This article is only meant to share information.
Signs of Liver Problems You Can Feel
7. Painful Feet
What it might tell you: Peripheral neuropathy related to liver disease
You may feel pain in your feet, or you may feel a numbing or tingling sensation. Your muscles may even feel weaker in the affected area.
- autoimmune infections and disorders
- kidney disorders
- vascular disorders
- chronic alcoholism
And sometimes, your doctor may not understand why you experience neuropathy.
8. Itchy Feet
What it might tell you: Pruritus related to liver disease
Do you have itchy feet? Some say it signifies your desire to travel. But it might be your liver booking a ticket to the doctor’s office.
Pruritus or itch is a common symptom of liver disease. But it’s most common in cholestatic liver disease. Among patients with cholestatic liver disease, 29% experience itchiness or pruritus.
The mechanics of pruritus isn’t exactly clear, but there different theories that might explain.
According to the bile salts theory, bile salts collect under your skin, giving an itchy sensation. However, patients with normal levels of bile salts also experience pruritus.
High histamine levels might also cause the itching sensation. But scientists found that high concentrations of histamine don’t make pruritus more severe. And antihistamines don’t seem to cure them either.
- chronic renal failure
Signs of Liver Problems You Can Smell
9. Hot or Stinky Feet
What it might tell you: Build-up of toxins
The only way your body can detox is through your kidneys and liver. No, the latest celebrity juicing trend may not help.
But with kidney or liver disease, your body’s ability to filter toxins is compromised. So with nowhere else to go, it begins to build up in your body. And this may translate to stinky feet.
The smell may remind you of ammonia or rotten eggs.
It may be an embarrassing condition, and it could disrupt your daily life even without a diagnosis of liver disease.
Your Feet and Symptoms of Liver Problems
Your feet say a lot about your overall health. So allow them to clue you in on how your body is doing and drag you to the clinic as needed.
You might not have thought that your liver can get in the way of your pedicure. But your body is a system of systems, and they rarely act alone. And if there’s vascular, heart, or liver problem (and they may influence each other), it may manifest on your feet.
Liver disease is diagnosed only after a proper examination and tests by licensed healthcare professionals. Even a combination of one or two of these symptoms will not always point to a medical condition.
Are you booking an appointment with your podiatrist or local nail salon? Let us know in the comments section below.
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