Liver disease: Doctor discusses causes and symptoms
One in four adults is thought to suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with the majority being unaware of having this condition.
Worryingly, fatty liver disease doesn’t often ring alarm bells until the later stages, leaving patients in the dark.
However, there are some tell-tale signs to be aware of and your mouth could hold clues, according to periodontist Dr Sulaman Anwar.
Dr Anwar said: “Fatty liver disease is caused by a build-up of fat in liver cells.
“This build-up can lead to inflammation and liver damage over time.
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“Fatty liver disease can cause signs in the mouth because fatty deposits in the liver impair its ability to make clotting factors, leading to swollen, bleeding gums.”
However, your gums aren’t the only part of your mouth that could ring alarm bells.
From the colour of your lips to the smell of your breath, here are the key signs of liver disease that may appear in your mouth.
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According to the doctor, the warning signs include:
- Discoloured or pale lips and gums – liver damage can lead to anaemia, causing pale lips and gums
- Bleeding, swollen gums – this can be caused by a lack of clotting factors made by the liver
- Reddened tongue – toxins the liver cannot process enter the blood and may change the appearance and moisture of the tongue
- Bad breath – this occurs because the liver cannot properly detoxify chemicals in the body
- Dry mouth – decreased saliva production may happen when liver disease impairs digestion.
“If you notice these mouth symptoms, the most important step is to see a doctor for an evaluation,” said Dr Anwar.
Your GP can then organise further tests to help diagnose any liver problems and choose the best suitable treatment.
Depending on the cause and severity of your fatty liver, you might be recommended lifestyle changes, medications or even a liver transplant.
The doctor concluded: “Catching and addressing liver disease early is crucial, so checking for mouth signs and promptly seeing a doctor can improve outcomes.”
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