The liver is an organ that works as a chemical factory 24/7. It processes everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin. The liver performs over 500 functions that are vital to life. Every day, your liver helps your body by providing it with energy, fighting off infections and toxins, helping clot the blood, regulating hormones and much, much more. But the liver is an easy organ to ignore and be attacked by viruses, toxic substances, contaminants and diseases. People with a liver disease rarely are aware of it. And alcohol is a quick way of damaging your liver.
TC46 connected with Dr Swapnil Sharma, HPB Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mumbai to learn more about liver health. This World Liver Day, understand more about your liver as Dr Swapnil shares with us 8 things we need to know about liver health.
1. Regular consumption of alcohol causes fatty liver
Regular consumption of alcohol causes fat deposition in the liver. Fatty liver develops in around 90% of alcoholics, who drink more than 60gms of alcohol every day. When the disease progresses, there is scarring in the liver and then cirrhosis develops.
2. Alcohol-related liver diseases can cause irreversible damage
Regular and excessive alcohol intake can cause three types of liver diseases: Fatty liver, Alcoholic hepatitis, and Cirrhosis of the liver.
- Fatty Liver is reversible after abstinence.
- Alcoholic hepatitis is reversible with medical management when it is mild, whereas severe alcoholic hepatitis patients may need a liver transplant.
- Cirrhosis of the liver is a permanent disease. Once an alcoholic patient develops cirrhosis of the liver, it’s an irreversible condition.
3. Alcohol-related diseases can lead to mild or severe jaundice
Symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease can range from no symptoms with or without deranged liver function test to mild jaundice. It can also show symptoms featuring liver cell failures like severe jaundice, fluid in the abdomen, gastrointestinal bleeding, and confusion.
The risk of alcoholic liver disease increases with the quantity and duration of alcohol intake. Sometimes patients who have had a history of alcohol disease continue to drink. In such cases, their liver condition worsens and they may go into liver cell failure.
4. Abstaining from alcohol helps in the treatment of alcohol-related liver disease
Abstinence from alcohol intake is the most important thing. Apart from abstinence, nutritional support is very important. If patients develop alcoholic hepatitis, they need to be hospitalized immediately. If a patient develops signs of liver cell failure, which can’t be managed medically, they need a liver transplant. Patients who are alcohol-dependent, need psychiatric consultation.
5. High SGPT and ALT levels indications of liver injury
SGOT and SGPT are liver enzymes. The normal range of these enzymes varies from lab to lab. The level of SGOT and SGPT is raised when there is liver cell injury. Liver injury can be because of various agents like alcohol, could be drug-induced or viral hepatitis. When SGOT, SGPT level is high, it means the individual liver is injured. Liver injury can be because of any reason like a viral illness, could be drug-induced, autoimmune hepatitis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) related and alcohol-related.
6. Any amount of alcohol can be a risk to the liver
Alcohol should not be consumed. The quantity of alcohol consumption is an important risk factor for the development of alcoholic liver disease. But there are other risk factors as well; women are more susceptible to alcohol-induced liver damage and have twice the risk of Alcoholic Liver Disease. Studies have shown that the risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis is increased with daily alcohol consumption of >30gm.
7. Decreased yellowness in eyes and urine are signs of a healing liver
The clinical signs that suggest the liver is recovering are improvement in jaundice (yellowness in eyes and urine decreases), decreasing limb and abdominal swelling. When we see blood test reports, there will be a decrease in serum bilirubin and liver enzymes which show an improving trend.
8. A healthy diet and regular exercise contribute towards a healthy liver
Apart from alcohol, nutrition and regular exercise are very important for patients with Alcoholic Liver Disease. These patients should have a high protein diet and do regular exercises like jogging, cycling. There are many yoga exercises that can help to achieve a healthy liver as well as lung, kidney and mental health.