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Laudable Liver!

Liver and Hepatitis awareness


The liver is the largest organ in our body weighing about 1.5 kg or about 3 pounds (that is 2-4% of the body weight). The liver is a dark reddish-brown organ, which is located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity, beneath the diaphragm, on top of the stomach, right kidney, and intestines. Is it not amazing to know that the liver performs at least 500 vital functions in our body? Hepatocytes or the liver cells have the unique capacity to reproduce in case of an injury to the liver. Even after surgical removal of a part of the liver, it can regenerate to its required size. In spite of this extraordinary ability of the liver to regenerate itself, repeated insults to the liver can cause liver failure and ultimately death.

Important functions of the Liver

1. Storage: The liver stores important substances; glucose in the form of glycogen, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, folate, vitamin B 12, and minerals like copper and iron.

2. Regulations, Synthesis, and Secretion: The hepatocytes are involved in regulation of various biochemical and metabolic functions and are responsible for the synthesis of various substances in the body. Liver synthesizes cholesterol. Liver synthesizes most blood proteins; albumin and clotting factors. Liver secretes bile, a greenish-yellow fluid that contains cholesterol, phospholipids, bilirubin, and bile salts that help in digestion and absorption of fats. Liver plays an important role in hormonal modification and inactivation.

3. Purification, Transformation, and Excretion: All of the blood in the body eventually passes through the liver. This is important because the liver removes all the bad things in the blood like toxins which can be ammonia or drugs like penicillin and Tylenol, or other toxins like damaged cells, proteins and old hormones. These are transformed into less harmful compounds. Once the liver has broken down harmful substances, they are excreted into the bile or blood. Bile by-products enter the intestine and ultimately leave the body through feces. Blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys and leave the body as urine.

How to know if the Liver is functioning normally?

A Liver Function Test is done on a routine basis during physical exams. More so a test will be suggested by the physician if the patient has symptoms of abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, or yellow skin; or has a history of liver disease; or is on any hepato-toxic medication; or is an alcoholic.

The liver enzymes are checked in a blood test. When liver cells are damaged or destroyed, the enzymes in the cells leak into the blood and hence become measurable in a blood test.

Signs of Liver Disorder: A liver disorder can manifest itself with one or more signs like chronic fatigue, itching, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and/or swelling, pale or dark-colored stool, dark urine, yellowish skin and eyes, or loss of appetite.

Liver Disorders: Major liver disorders include hepatitis (inflammation of liver cells), cirrhosis (scarring of tissues), liver tumors, and liver abscess (collection of pus).

Hepatitis Types and Treatments: Hepatitis is the swelling of the liver (inflammation) that makes the liver work less efficiently. This can lead to cirrhosis or cancer. This is caused by virus or some drug or alcohol. Hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV) are the most common type of viral hepatitis, although hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, and G exist. Vaccines can treat some viruses or else drug therapy is the solution.

Source of Hepatitis: Most of the infections are spread by means of contaminated water or food, by coming into contact with contaminated blood or blood products or organs, through sexual contact, passing on from mother to child, by sharing personal items of infected individuals.

Precautions against Hepatitis:

1. Washing hands thoroughly before eating or preparing food.
2 . Not sharing personal items of others which can come into contact with blood like razor, nail clipper, toothbrush, needle, etc.
3 . Use of preventable vaccines.
4 . Reporting to physician any risky activity pursued in the past or recent and getting treated at the earliest once a diagnosis is made.
5 . Keep in mind that early diagnosis and treatment will save any damage to the liver as well as help arresting spread of the infection to others.

Alcoholic Liver Disease: Acetaldehyde is a toxic chemical produced by alcohol. So, some of the heavy drinkers tend to start with hepatitis and progress into liver cirrhosis. In women too, high alcohol consumption combined with over weight can lead to increased risk of developing chronic liver disease. Women who regularly drink more than 6 units of alcohol a day (more than 35 units a week) and men who regularly drink more than 8 units a day (more than 50 units a week) are at the highest risk for alcohol-related liver problems.

Watch the Video: Cirrohsis - Scaring of liver tissues

I don't use sunscreen because ...

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I don't use sunscreen because my lifestyle makes it far more likely my liver, lungs, or heart will deteriorate before my skin.

- unknown

Disclaimer: The above content is provided for information and awareness purpose only. It is not prescriptive or suggestive or meant to replaces your qualified physician's advice or consultation.