World Liver Day 2023: Do You Know Excessive Drinking Causes Liver Damage? Check Preventive Measures
World Liver Day 2023: The liver is one of the most important and complex organs of the human body. It not only helps in the digestion of food, filtration of toxins, and regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol levels but also helps in fighting several infections and diseases.
On the occasion of World Liver Day 2023, let us pledge to cut alcohol consumption as it severely affects the liver. While excessive consumption of alcohol has the potential to damage nearly all organs, it affects the liver first. According to World Health Organization, around 33 lakh people across the world have lost their lives from alcoholism and the numbers are ever-increasing.
According to experts, the occurrence of liver disease depends on the amount and pattern of drinking. For example, if a man consumes 40-80 ml of alcohol a day for up to 10-12 years, the development of severe liver disease is underway.
On the other hand, if an individual consumes a large quantity of alcohol in a short period, his liver may develop the disease even earlier.
Stages of liver damage due to excessive drinking
1- Alcoholic Fatty Liver: This is the very first stage of liver damage due to excessive drinking over many years. An excessive amount of fat accumulates in the liver and interferes with its function. This health condition can be reversed if the individual quits drinking.
2- Acute Alcoholic Hepatitis: This is the second stage of liver damage due to excessive consumption of alcohol and leads to rapid liver damage. This health condition may even lead to liver failure and its cure depends upon the extent of liver damage.
3- Alcoholic cirrhosis: It is the last stage of liver damage due to uncontrolled drinking. It is the most severe form of Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) where the liver is scarred and its functions are severely affected. The liver damage at this stage is permanent and may lead to liver failure and death.
Other causes of liver disease & treatments
Other causes include infections from Hepatitis B and C viruses, drugs, toxins, and other genetic and metabolic disorders. In recent years, a worrying health condition has developed - Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). In NAFLD, fat is accumulated in the liver and is accompanied by inflammation, leading to liver damage and cirrhosis.
It is to be noted that once cirrhosis is established, the health condition cannot be reversed. Patients may suffer from jaundice, swelling of feet, accumulation of fluid in the lungs and chest, vomiting, black stools, loss of muscle mass, and significant weakness.
Cirrhosis can affect the functionality of the brain, kidneys, and lungs, thereby causing serious complications which may lead to death. Further, liver cancer can also be detected in some individuals suffering from cirrhosis.
Treatment of cirrhosis includes restriction of salt and water intake to reduce swelling of the legs and abdomen, drugs to reduce the risk of bleeding and the management of gastrointestinal bleeding. However, as the liver disease worsens, treatment is limited and less effective.
Another remedy for patients with high liver damage is a liver transplant wherein a damaged liver is replaced with a healthy liver. The donor can be a family member having a matching blood group or a cadaveric donor wherein the liver of a brain-dead donor is used to replace the diseased liver.
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle.
- Regular Liver disease screenings
- Optimizing care for conditions that can lead to liver disease
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly.
- Avoiding alcohol.
- Being careful with medicine intake.
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