Liver Health 101: How to prevent liver disease

Liver and its Functions

The liver is the largest and most important organ of our body, pivotal in keeping the body healthy. Hence, any discrepancy in the liver functions may affect the entire body. It plays an important role in digestion, metabolism, storage, energy, and detoxification of waste. The liver takes care of the entire process of digestion from digesting the food to converting it into energy and later storing the energy and filtering the toxic materials from the bloodstream.

Different Types of Liver Ailments

Some of the common liver ailments are

Hepatitis – Hepatitis is a contagious disease that affects the liver, causing inflammation and extensive liver damage. However, it can be prevented with vaccination. There are 5 types of hepatitis

  • Hepatitis A & E – It is commonly spread through water or food contamination.
  • Hepatitis B – It can be either a severe or mild infection. The complete cure from Hepatitis B is hard, however, medications can help in avoiding further complications. It is usually spread through body fluids such as semen or blood. A regular body check-up is advisable if you have a history of Hepatitis B, to ensure preventive measures to improve life expectancy.
  • Hepatitis CHepatitis C is a silent disease that does show symptoms at the advanced stages. It is caused by blood transfusion from another person with Hepatitis C.
  • Hepatitis D – It is a serious condition caused only in people suffering from Hepatitis B.

Abnormality in the Immune System – When your body’s immune system fights against your own body parts, it may lead to an autoimmune disease. This damages the liver causing liver diseases such as – Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, Autoimmune Hepatitis, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.

Genetic Disorder – A gene inherited from your ancestors can cause liver damage such as Wilson’s disease, Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Hemochromatosis, Hyperoxaluria and oxalosis.

Cancer – Most often cancer is spread to the liver from the adjacent organs infected by cancer such as stomach, bile duct or lungs.

Liver Diseases: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Liver problems symptoms include –

  • Pain and swelling in the abdomen.
  • Skin irritation.
  • Eyes and the skin colour turns yellow.
  • Swollen ankles and legs.
  • Passing pale, bloody or tar stool.
  • Severe tiredness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Passing dark coloured urine.
  • Vomiting and Nausea.

Causes of Liver Cancer

  • Obesity and lack of exercise
  • Genetic disorder and a family history of liver disease.
  • Consuming contaminated water and food.
  • Constant inhalation of toxic chemicals.
  • Usage of unsterilized needles for tattooing or injections.
  • Having sex without protection.
  • Diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
  • Overdose of medicines.

Treatment for Liver Diseases

Most often liver diseases cannot be cured completely and even in a curable condition it may take a prolonged time. Doctors usually advise patients suffering from liver cancer to practice some lifestyle changes like-

  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat a liver-friendly diet that is rich in fiber and less in fat, salt, and sugar.

For severe medical conditions, doctors recommend medical treatments such as-

  • Supplements and vitamins to enhance liver health.
  • Steroids to reduce liver swelling.
  • Targeted medication to reduce symptoms such as itchy skin.
  • Antiviral drugs for Hepatitis treatment.
  • Medication to control blood pressure level.
  • Surgery and liver transplant as the last options of treatment.

Measures to Lower The Risk of Liver Diseases

Liver Diseases can be prevented by –

  • Controlling alcohol consumption to 1 or 2 drinks per day. This keeps the liver function steady and normal.
  • Make sure the needles are sterilized.
  • If you wish to get your body pierced or tattooed make sure you choose the right shop which maintains hygiene and safety measures.
  • Do not engage in intravenous drugs and do not share used needles.
  • Have safe sex and use condoms.
  • Get vaccinated against Hepatitis if you are at a higher risk like a family history of liver disease.
  • Take medications as prescribed. Do not mix with alcohol or take an overdose of medicine.
  • Avoid inhaling toxic chemicals, use a mask to cover your face when spraying pesticides, paints or insecticides. Keep the room well ventilated while you engage in such activities
  • Do not touch toxic chemicals with bare hands and avoid direct contact with skin by wearing appropriate attire like long sleeves, hand gloves, mask and a hat.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight and avoid junk food that contains excess oil.
  • Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich food products.