Know Your Liver

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The liver is one of the largest, hardest working organs in the body. It plays a number of important functions such as the production of bile which is important for fat digestion; detoxification of blood to get rid of harmful substances like alcohol and waste products LIKE worn-out cells; storage of nutrients and conversion of stored sugar to functional sugar.

Common Diseases of the Liver Alcohol-Related Liver Disease:

There are various categories of liver diseases relating to alcohol consumption. An alcoholic fatty liver disease can occur after consumption of large amounts of alcohol, or even after a short period of drinking because of the build-up of fat in the liver. This, however, can be reversed if you stop drinking. Alcoholic hepatitis is another form of liver disease that occurs after a long period of alcohol consumption. Mild alcoholic hepatitis can be reversed if you stop drinking, but not so much with severe alcoholic hepatitis. Alcoholic cirrhosis, the third form of alcoholic liver disease, is more serious as it is generally not reversible. Cirrhosis of the liver occurs when normal liver tissue is replaced by scar liver tissue which then prevents the liver from working properly. For early-stage cirrhosis, stopping drinking can increase life expectancy.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease:

This is caused by too much fat within the liver cells and is common in overweight and obese people. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a severe form of the disease that is characterised by inflammation of the liver and can eventually lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.

Hepatitis:

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused a virus. The different types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A (caused by the Hepatitis A virus and is highly contagious. It can be transmitted through contact from person to person or through ingestion of contaminated food or water); Hepatitis B (caused by the Hepatitis B virus and is transmitted when the blood, semen, or other body fluids of an infected person enters the body of someone not infected); Hepatitis C (caused by the Hepatitis C virus and is usually spread through blood to- blood contact with an infected person. Since there is no vaccination against Hepatitis C, the best way to prevent it is by avoiding risky behaviours such as sharing of needles and having unprotected sex); Hepatitis D (caused by the hepatitis D virus and only occurs among people who are infected with the Hepatitis B virus. This is because it needs the hepatitis B virus to be able to survive in the body. It is spread through blood-to-blood contact) and Hepatitis E which is caused by the hepatitis E virus and is transmitted through ingestion of food and drink contaminated with an fecal matter of an infected person.

Keep Your Liver Healthy

Eat Healthy Diets and Exercise Regularly:

Eating healthy and regular meals ensures all your body organs, including the liver, are working at optimal levels. A healthy diet coupled with regular exercise helps to prevent or manage many of health problems.

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake:

Alcohol plays a role in the development of many diseases affecting the liver. To prevent liver disease, reduce your alcohol intake.

Limit Direct Contact with Toxic Chemicals:

Avoid smoking. Because toxic chemicals can injure liver cells, take precaution when using fungicides, insecticides and paint – wear protective gear like a mask and gloves. Always make sure rooms are well ventilated.

Take Medications Correctly:

Talk to your doctor before mixing prescription drugs with non-prescription drugs or supplements. Do not mix alcohol with medicine – apart from making the drugs less effective or toxic, this can harm the liver and other organs in the body. Follow the recommended dosage. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight is a risk factor for liver disease.

Get Vaccinated:

Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways of preventing viral hepatitis. Practice safe behaviours: That includes not sharing needles and using a condom during sex.

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