Did you know that the liver is one of the most important organs of the human body? Located on the right portion of the abdomen, under the rib cage, it is about the size of a football, and plays a major role in the digestion process and the elimination of toxic substances from the body.
Just like the heart and lungs, if not taken good care of, the liver can be at risk of various disorders and diseases. And, over time, the damage can get worse, and can result to liver failure, which is a serious and life-threatening medical problem.
What are the causes of liver problems?
Liver problems are caused by a variety of things.
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are common infections that affect the liver. They are brought about by viruses that damage the liver, weakening the organ’s ability to carry out its functions. They are transmitted through direct contact with someone who has the infection, contaminated water or food, semen, or blood.
If you inherit an abnormal gene from either or both of your parents, you may develop liver problems. Examples of genetic liver diseases are Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, hemachromatosis, Wilson’s disease, hyperoxaulria, and oxalosis.
Abnormality in the immune system
Sometimes, an abnormality in the immune system can make your immune system mistakenly launch an attack to certain organs or parts of your body, such as your liver. This condition is known as an autoimmune disease, and the liver has quite a few of these, including primary biliary cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
The abnormal growth of liver cells and the cells around it can cause cancer. Examples of cancer types that affect the liver are liver cancer, liver adenoma, and bile duct cancer.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to liver disease. If you drink more than 4 drinks per day or more than 14 drinks per week, you are considered a heavy drinker. Every time you overdrink, you are making your liver work harder to break down the alcohol, triggering a chemical reaction that damages the cells, scarring, and inflammation.
What are the common signs and symptoms that manifest if you have liver disease?
There are several warning signs that appear if you have been hit by liver disease. Below are examples that you should watch out for:
- Jaundice, which is a condition characterized by the yellowing of the eyes and the skin
- Inflammation in the ankles and legs
- Swelling and pain in the abdomen
- Darker-colored urine
- Appetite loss
- Itchy skin
- Traces of blood in the stool
- Chronic fatigue
What are the risk factors associated with liver disease?
Having certain habits or doing particular activities can increase your risk of liver disease. The following are common factors that can make you more likely to get afflicted with it:
- Heavy drinking
- Sharing needles when injecting drugs, and others
- Getting exposed to infected people’s semen, blood, and other bodily fluids
- Having diabetes
- Engaging in unprotected sex
- Being overweight or obese
- Exposure to some hazardous toxins or chemicals
- Getting body piercings, tattoos, and others and be exposed to tools that are not properly sterilized
- Receiving blood transfusion before 1992, when there were no strict blood screening and testing regulations in place yet
What should you do to protect your liver?
For liver disease prevention, there are a variety of precautionary measures that you can apply to your lifestyle. Below are good and healthy practices that you should start doing today to ensure that your liver is happy and healthy for a long time:
Do you like to go out drinking every night after work with your coworkers? Do you often find yourself not remembering what happened over the weekend because you got too drunk? Drinking excessively is not a habit that you should have in your lifestyle. It is something that only brings harm and danger to your body. Subjecting your bodily organs and systems to so much alcohol just damages them, and, over time, can lead to severe health problems that can get you hospitalized or even cause your death. According to health experts, to remain healthy, men should only drink up to two drinks per day, and women up to one. If your drinking is out of control, and you consume over 14 drinks in a week, your risk of liver disease is very high, and you should do something about it right away to protect your health.
Did you know that syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, and chlamydia are not the only diseases that can be passed on from one person to another through sexual acts? Are you aware that there is a type of liver disease that you can get by having unprotected sex with someone who is afflicted with it? The liver disease Hepatitis B can be spread through sex. Caused by a virus, the Hepatitis B infection can be transmitted from an infected person to a non-infected one via saliva, semen, blood, and other bodily fluids. Once the virus gets in your systems, you start showing symptoms that may include fever, rash, joint pains, appetite loss, exhaustion, and jaundice or the yellowing of the eyes and the skin. Therefore, to lower your risk of contracting it, you should always use condoms when having sex.
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are liver diseases that you can ward off if you get vaccinated. For hepatitis A, the vaccine is administered by injecting into the upper arm. If you get it as an adult, you will be given two separate shots of 1 milliliter, with a 6 to 12 month gap in between the two shots. For hepatitis B, the vaccine is administered by injecting into the arm as well. If you decide to get it, you will be given a total of three shots with doses dependent on your age, with the second shot occurring a month after the first and the final shot coming five months later.