As a key player in your body’s digestive system, the liver processes everything that you eat and drink, including medicines. It cleanses the body by getting rid of the harmful chemicals, produces bile which breaks down the fat from food, and stores glucose which gives you a quick boost when needed.
A healthy lifestyle can make a difference between a healthy liver, and one that is suffering from cirrhosis. As a long-term progressive disease, liver cirrhosis is the complication of liver diseases where the liver does not function suitably due to long-term damage. It involves loss of liver cells and irreversible scarring of the liver. Hence, you need to know if you are treating your liver the way it needs to be treated for a healthy functioning.
Are you consuming alcohol?
Consuming too much alcohol, either on a single occasion (binge drinking) or drinking a lot over time, can take a severe toll on your health and well-being. It can injure your liver significantly and can be life-threatening. The 3 alcohol-related liver diseases (ALD) are:
- Fatty Liver – It is the first stage of ALD, and is also known as steatosis. A highly common liver disease, it is characterized by an excessive accumulation of fat inside the liver cells. Usually, there are no symptoms of fatty liver and patients may be diagnosed incidentally on ultrasound on a casual check-up. Heavy drinkers usually get fatty liver sooner or later in their lives. However, this condition is reversible and will go away if they stop drinking.
- Alcoholic Hepatitis – The second stage of ALD, Alcoholic Hepatitis involves inflammation of the liver and is accompanied by the destruction of liver cells. The person will usually have a range of symptoms including fever, jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. It can last for years and will gradually progress to absolute liver damage. If it is severe, it can lead to life-threatening complications like liver cirrhosis.
- Liver Cirrhosis – In the final stage of liver cirrhosis, the healthy liver tissue is scarred, and liver damage is irreversible. It starts with fibrosis which is the first stage of scarring, gradually builds up and spreads across the liver. The final stage is cirrhosis when scarring takes over most of the liver. Along with the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis, a patient of cirrhosis will also witness the following symptoms:
- Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
- Bleeding from the veins in the food pipe (esophageal varices)
- Yellowness of eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Alteration in behaviour/mental status (hepatic encephalopathy)
- Fatigue, wasting of muscles
Cirrhosis caused by alcohol consumption can be a life-threatening disease. The only option for patients suffering from end stage liver cirrhosis is a liver transplant. We at Max Healthcare provide a world-class treatment for patients with all liver related problems. As one of the leading liver transplant hospitals in India, Max Healthcare provides the highest standards of medical excellence.
Are You Maintaining a healthy weight?
If you are obese or even slightly overweight, you are a risk of developing a fatty liver that can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is one of the fastest growing forms of liver disease and can progress to scarring of liver cells. Weight loss can aid in reducing the fat formation inside the liver and can cut down the risk of serious illnesses.
Are You Eating a Balanced Diet?
Eating balanced diet is not only advantageous for the liver but the entire body. Since the liver is responsible for cleaning toxins from the body, it is imperative to eat a balanced diet to ensure the body is getting adequate nutrients. Include many fibres in your diet, and eat fresh fruits, steamed vegetables, cereals and whole grain. Avoid high-calorie meals, saturated fat, red meat and sugars to further cut down on toxins that can be harmful to the liver. Remember to keep your hydration levels up by drinking an adequate amount of water. In addition to eating a balanced diet, make sure you are exercising as it helps burn triglycerides for fuel and can also decrease liver fat.
Are you vaccinated?
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can severely damage the liver. It can lead to liver cirrhosis, which can eventually result in liver failure. Vaccination is available for Hepatitis A (usually benign) and Hepatitis B, and it is necessary to get these shots to protect the liver. Although Hepatitis is self-limiting, it can lead to cirrhosis and can cause liver cancer. However, there is no vaccination available for Hepatitis C; one must protect themselves against Hepatitis A and B.
Are you using Illicit Drugs?
Substance abuse is one of the principal cause of organ failure and deaths. Drugs like heroin, steroids, inhalants can permanently damage the liver. There are certain prescription medicines like acetaminophen, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, T.B medicines that can cause acute liver failure if not taken appropriately.
Liver damage can be reversed if it is detected early enough. The liver has the highest regenerative capacity among all organs of the body and can withstand much abuse. However, if you do not preserve its health, it can get seriously damaged. In cases of acute liver failure or liver cirrhosis, only a liver transplant can save the patient when (s) he cannot be managed medically.