Basic facts and importance of liver
Liver is the second largest solid organ in the body weighing upto 1-1.5 kgs and situated in the right side of the upper abdomen, protected behind the rib cage.
It processes everything that we eat and drink and converts it into energy and nutrients that body needs. The liver also stores vitamins and metabolizes hormones that are required for the functioning of the body.
Liver has the capacity to heal and regenerate itself. Hence, the liver disease process is silent, but when it develops it presents as an advanced disease resulting in a fifty percent death rate. Liver disease is the only major cause of death still increasing year on year and it kills as many people as diabetes and accidents.
There are more than 100 diseases of the liver and the symptoms are very few until the disease is quite advanced. Hence it is important to be aware of symptoms and to have a healthy life style to prevent liver disease. Some liver disease such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, fatty liver disease, NAFLD (obesity and non alcoholic related fatty liver disease) and alcohol related disease are preventable. Vaccines are available for Hepatitis B and A. Liver disease can lead to liver cancer too.
How to take care of our liver
Eating healthy diet and exercising regularly are an important of our daily activities. Our lives have become very sedentary and hence lead to one becoming overweight and obese. Excess alcohol intake has been a major cause of liver damage which leads to end stage liver disease which ultimately requires liver transplantation. There has been a marked increase in alcohol related liver diseases and hence the increased death incidence in this condition, when the liver fails completely.
The advice for good healthy living and to look after your liver and whole body:
- Kitchen: To store low fat, high fibre food and to keep salty and sugary snacks to a minimum.
- If you do drink alcohol, then drink in moderation. Women process alcohol slower, hence are more susceptible to alcohol related liver damage.
- Travel: If planning to travel, then do get immunized to Hepatitis A and B.
- Store medicines and chemicals (bleach and house hold cleaning products) out of reach of children.
- Do not mix medications and / or herbal supplements without consultation with your doctor.
- Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
- Take precautions to avoid exposure when using weed control chemicals or spraying for bugs.
- Take opportunities to get outside and enjoy some exercise and sports such as cycling etc.
- Body piercing, tattooing , manicure, pedicure equipments and tattoo ink can all come into contact with blood and hence they may possibly transmit infections like Hepatitis B and C from one person to the other. These blood borne infections can cause serious liver disease – potentially fatal too.
- Avoid sharing of needles and syringes, razors and to safely dispose off sharps and needles so that no one comes in contact with them accidently.
- Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted sexually, though hepatitis B is more likely to be transmitted sexually than Hepatitis C.