Top Reasons You May Be at Risk for Liver Diseases
Second-largest organ in the human body is the
liver. It is roughly the size of a football and present in the right side of
your body, just behind your ribs. The liver is important for digestion,
removing toxins from the body, helping in blood clotting, and many more
functions vital for life. As useful nutrients and other harmful substances pass
through your digestive tract, the liver functions to separate them. It also
synthesizes bile, a chemical that removes toxins from the body and facilitates
The terminology "liver disease" refers
to any of the various disorders that can affect and harm your liver. Liver
disease can be hereditary (genetic), or infective (viruses like hepatitis A, B,
C), alcohol abuse, obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, cancers etc. Cirrhosis
develops as a result of continued liver damage over a long time. This
eventually leads to the cirrhotic liver not able to meet body requirements, if
it is not treated on time this leads to complications.
The following are the main causes of liver
disease to watch out for:
Exposure to Toxins - Liver removes toxins from
the blood, however too much exposure to toxins can lead to liver damage.
Consuming certain medications on your own without doctors’ prescriptions can
often lead to liver damage. Toxin in the form of untested medicines, diet
supplements and concoctions can lead to liver damage and failure.
To be certain you're not consuming pesticides,
wash and clean fruits and vegetables before eating them, and read the warnings
on any household chemicals you use.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption – Chronic or even
intermittent excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages gives rise to
alcoholic fatty liver, which leads to liver swelling, eventually scarring
(cirrhosis), and even liver cancer. Your liver can be irreparably damaged by
the time you start to experience symptoms. The problem could be reversed if
timely addressed before the stage of cirrhosis.
Infections - Viral infections can affect the
liver, producing inflammation and damaging liver tissues which negatively
affects liver function. Common viruses causing liver infection are,
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C. Hepatitis B & C are blood-borne
and spread by Blood transfusions, contact with body fluids, or unprotected
sexual contact with an infected individual. Hepatitis A virus is spread
by consumption of contaminated food/water.
Diabetes, High Cholesterol, and Obesity - These
illnesses alter the metabolism in the body and can result in non-alcoholic
fatty liver disease, leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Currently NASH is
the leading cause of liver damage across the world. By reducing simple carbs
like sugar and increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and protein, you
can reverse it at the "fatty" stage, much like you can with alcoholic
Autoimmune disorder - Diseases that cause your
immune system to attack particular organs of your body may have an impact on
your liver. Autoimmune liver disorders can be triggered when your immune system
inadvertently damages tissue-specific to your liver. Primary biliary
cholangitis and autoimmune hepatitis are two examples of this.
Hazardous Supplements - There are several herbs
and supplements which have been linked to liver damage, so just because
something is advertised as "natural" doesn't imply it's beneficial
for your health. Taking more than one prescription or herb that affects the
liver may exacerbate the problem. Inform your doctor about any medications and
supplements you use, including any sporadic or over-the-counter medications.
Family History of Liver Disease -You may be
more prone to liver problems if you or a close relative has had a liver
illness. If you inherit a defective gene from your parents or any other close
one from the family, the accumulation of several toxic compounds in the liver
might result in liver problems. You should be on the lookout for symptoms if a
close family has ever had a hereditary liver illness such as hemochromatosis,
alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency or Wilson disease.
How is Liver Disease treated?
The type of liver illness you have and how far
it has advanced will affect the treatment you undergo.
Medication - Some forms of liver disease are
managed by doctors using medicines like Wilson's disease or viral illnesses
Changes in Lifestyle - You can control certain
forms of liver disease with your diet. Alcohol should be avoided, simple
refined sugar intake should be reduced, fibre and protein intake should be
increased if you have fatty liver disease.
Liver Transplant – When the liver has endured
prolonged damage it becomes cirrhotic and is irreparable. A liver
transplant is the best course of treatment at this stage. The diseased liver is
replaced with a healthy liver from a donor.
A toxic drug overdose, a genetic ailment,
cancer, or an infection cans all cause liver disease. If you discover liver
problems early enough, many of them are treatable. Many different forms of
liver disease can be successfully treated by healthcare professionals through
medication or dietary adjustments.
Dr. Ankur Garg
Director Surgical Gastroenterology & Liver Transplant
Metro Group of Hospitals