Liver is the second largest organ in the body and is a key player in our body’s digestive system. Everything we consume, including medicine, passes through the liver. World Liver Day, commemorated on April 19 every year, aims to spread awareness about the various liver diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. This World Liver Day, make yourself aware of the causes of liver diseases, symptoms and preventive measures to take. According to WHO, liver diseases are the 10th most common cause of death in India.
Liver disease can be inherited (genetic) or caused by a variety of factors that damage the liver, such as viruses and alcohol use. Diseases such as hepatitis A, B, C, Hepatocellular cancer and cirrhosis often occur because of bad lifestyle choices, excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs, continuous intake of unhealthy food over a long period of time, sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise. 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. However, the good news is that the liver has this unique ability to repair and regenerate itself with time, and as such most illnesses are treatable. Some of the common liver diseases that are caused due to our lifestyle habits include Hepatitis A, B and C, Fatty Liver Disease, Cirrhosis, Cancer, etc.
Causes for Liver disorders
Signs and symptoms of liver disease include
- Genetic causes
- An unhealthy lifestyle and eating practices
- Hepatitis A, B and C infections
- Excessive alcohol intake, high cholesterol foods
- A High BMI (body mass index), which is associated with Type 2 diabetes risk, obesity
Symptoms of liver damage do not present themselves till very late. Some symptoms are:
Preventing Liver Diseases
- Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
- Pain in the abdomen and swelling
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Skin that is itchy
- Dark coloured urine
- Pale stool color, or bloody or tar-colored stool
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- A tendency to bruise easily
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle and have a balanced diet
- Eat foods from all the food groups including grains, proteins, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and fats. Include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, apple and walnut in your diet.
- Eat foods that have lot of fibres such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals such as millet and buckwheat.
- Ensure safe blood transfusions to avoid contracting hepatitis A, B, C.
- Get vaccinated, talk to your doctor about getting the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.
- Maintain personal hygiene and be sure to wash hands after using the washroom.
- Say No to alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
- Exercise regularly, at least 4-5 times a week.
- 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 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- 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.