The liver is an organ about the size of a football that sits just under your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. It is an unsung hero. Every day it works hard to clear the waste products and toxins your body produces, or takes in. It takes up these waste products from your bloodstream, breaks them down and sends them down your bile duct, in a liquid called bile, into your intestine. This bile helps with digestion. Your liver also controls some infections and helps your blood clot properly.
Take small steps to improve your liver health. Following a healthy diet is one of the most important things to do along with regular physical activity. There should be a reduction in carbohydrates and total calories which can lead to improvements in the fat stored in the liver. The idea is to skip high fat high sugar diet.
What are Liver Functions?
The liver has a multitude of important and complex functions. Some of these functions are to:
- Manufacture (synthesize) proteins.
- Synthesize, store, and process (metabolize) fats, including fatty acids (used for energy) and cholesterol.
- Metabolize and store carbohydrates.
- Form and secrete the bile juice.
- Eliminate, by metabolizing and/or secreting, the potentially harmful biochemical products produced by the body.
- Detoxify, by metabolizing and/or secreting, drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins.
What happens in a Liver disease?
The yellow tinge of jaundice is caused by the build-up of a substance called bilirubin in your bloodstream. It’s produced when your red blood cells, which only ‘live’ for about three months, are broken down. If the cells of your liver are inflamed, or if the exit to your bowel through your bile duct is blocked, it can cause jaundice.
Cirrhosis is a serious condition where the healthy tissue in your liver is replaced with scar tissue. An earlier change is called ‘fatty liver’.
Signs and symptoms of liver disease include:
- Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine color
- Pale stool color, or bloody or tar-colored stool
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Tendency to bruise easily
Causes of liver disease:
Parasites and viruses can infect the liver, causing inflammation that reduces the liver function. The viruses that cause liver damage can be spread through blood or semen, contaminated food or water, or close contact with a person who is infected. The most common types of liver infection are hepatitis viruses, including:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Immune system abnormality
Diseases in which your immune system attacks certain parts of your body (autoimmune) can affect your liver. Examples of autoimmune liver diseases include:
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
An abnormal gene inherited from one or both of your parents can cause various substances to build up in your liver, resulting in liver damage. Genetic liver diseases include:
- Hyperoxaluria and oxalosis
- Wilson’s disease
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Cancer and other growths
- Liver cancer
- Bile duct cancer
- Liver adenoma
Additional, common causes of liver disease include:
- Chronic alcohol abuse
- Fat accumulating in the liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)
Liver disease can be inherited (genetic) or caused by a variety of factors that damage the liver, such as viruses and alcohol use. Obesity is also associated with liver damage. Over time, damage to the liver results in scarring (cirrhosis), which can lead to liver failure, a life-threatening condition.
Some preventive measures:
- Drink alcohol in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.
- Avoid risky behaviour. Get help if you use illicit intravenous drugs, and don’t share needles used to inject drugs. Use a condom during sex. If you choose to have tattoos or body piercings, be picky about cleanliness and safety when selecting a shop.
- Get vaccinated. If you’re at increased risk of contracting hepatitis or if you’ve already been infected with any form of the hepatitis virus, talk to your doctor about getting the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.
- Use medications wisely. Take prescription and non-prescription drugs only when needed and only in recommended doses. Don’t mix medications and alcohol.
- Avoid contact with other people’s blood and body fluids. Hepatitis viruses can be spread by accidental needle sticks or improper cleanup of blood or body fluids.
- Take care with aerosol sprays. Make sure the room is ventilated, and wear a mask when spraying insecticides, fungicides, paint and other toxic chemicals. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Protect your skin. When using insecticides and other toxic chemicals, wear gloves, long sleeves, a hat and a mask.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Consult our Hepato Pancreato Biliary department for any liver related complications. Please see below link for more details: