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  • Pain and the liver

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    Old 04-16-2012, 10:28 PM   #1
    Join Date: Apr 2012
    Location: Surprise, AZ
    Posts: 6
    Gumbyu HB User
    Pain and the liver

    Hi all, I have been experiencing sharp, pinching and/or stabbing like pains in just under the front of rib cage (right) and occassionally also on the right lower flank as well. FYI - I am a recovering alcoholic (almost 180 days sober....)

    I went in today for the issue, got some blood tests done and am awaiting the results. BUT, I am scared out of my mind at this point; I cant stop thinking about it and my anxiety (which is normally really high) is in overdrive right now... Google really is getting the best of me and I can seem to think about anything else.

    So, the question is, with liver problems, is there anything that I should be looking for in the early stages? Also, I have read so many different things, namely that the liver has to in REALLY bad shape for me to feel pain from the sac that surrounds it. Is that true? Can it go back to normal? Will I be OK?

    I am otherwise a healthy 39 year old male with a lot to live for.


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    Old 04-17-2012, 08:59 AM   #2
    Join Date: Aug 2011
    Location: California
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    Re: Pain and the liver

    Hi Bob! "Upper Right Quadrant Abdominal Pain" is a common enough complaint with inflamed livers, due to drinking, fatty liver, etc. I'm not a doctor, but I've read enough about people suffering from this symptom to believe it does not mean your liver has turned to stone, but simply that it is swollen, inflamed, and perhaps a bit angry.

    I had similar symptoms both before and after I gave up my daily/evening beerfest adventures, and I can tell you, "this too shall pass".

    One thing you might look into is: Alcoholic hepatic iron overload. Alcohol increases dietary iron absorption and the liver is the primary site for iron storage in the body. Alcohol also causes "fatty hepatomegaly", or an enlarged fatty liver. These big alcoholic livers can hold lots of iron, but when you quit drinking and your liver starts shrinking back to normal size, relative concentrations of iron in the liver can increase, causing oxidative stress and inflammation.

    I'll bet your doctor didn't include an iron study in your tests (as they rarely do) so you may need to request a test for "FERRITIN" which is a measure of stored iron. Don't let your doc switch tests and do "serum iron" as this is a poor indication of total iron loading.

    The upper/normal limit for ferritin is set outrageously high in men (at 300), but OPTIMAL ferritin levels are really much lower. Mine was only 117 and I was still having symptoms (liver pangs!) until I lowered my stored iron through blood donation and a supplement called "IP6" or inositol hexaphosphate. Once I got my ferritin down around 40 my symptoms vanished and I felt much better.

    Don't let your doctor tell you ferritin of 100 or more is "normal"... It's higher than "optimal", and bringing it down will make you feel better.

    Congratulations on your new healthy lifestyle, and best of luck to you!

    Old 04-17-2012, 04:24 PM   #3
    Join Date: Apr 2012
    Location: Surprise, AZ
    Posts: 6
    Gumbyu HB User
    Re: Pain and the liver

    Bill - thanks for the below and responding to my 'worry' with a lot of really valuable information and nice sentiment....

    I did get the results back and the panel's came back as normal, I didnt do the iron test as you mention below, but my panel tests are 16/20 (which according to the doctor is normal). I'm still slightly concerned though because I still have the pain at times and now dont even have a reason as to why it is happening (outside of getting older and anxiety), so I sent my Dr. an email trying to figure out what is going on...

    Thanks again for the support!


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