Liver Health

Liver diseases can be structural and functional. This webinar is an interesting discussion about how one can identify liver disease symptoms early. We can have a healthy liver by following a healthy and active lifestyle, maintaining hygiene, avoiding alcohol, smoking, etc.

Host: 
Dr. Devi Shetty
Panellists: 
Dr. Narendra Prasad Bohidar, Dr. Saket Agarwal, Dr. Rangarajan Kasturi

Understanding Liver Health

SHARE

What is a Liver disease and what are its types? What causes Liver damage?

Liver diseases can be structural and functional. Certain diseases are inherited from parents like Wilson’s disease, where a functional damage is observed. While in diseases like Cirrhosis, there is a structural damage to the organ that eventually leads to a functional damage.

Causes of the diseases can vary from congenital, toxins that we ingest - knowingly or unknowingly - from the environment, consuming excessive alcohol, malignancy, and infectivity allergies.

How will I know that I am suffering from a liver problem?

You will come across certain symptoms, which could be non-specific at times, like lethargy, fatigue, loss of appetite. Few specific symptoms could be eyes and urine turning yellow; the patient will develop jaundice, which is a confirming sign of a liver disease, swelling in the lower lip, developing fluid in the abdomen, etc.

How does alcohol affect the liver?

There is no safe limit to consuming alcohol. The safety limit is subjective. Some people from foreign countries have better genetics in terms of metabolising and breaking alcohol in their body, while people from the Asian countries have more sensitive livers to alcohol. From the western perspective, anything over 21 units for men and 14 units for women is thought to be excessive. The important thing is to take a break between alcohol intakes.

What does fatty liver mean?

Fatty liver is infiltration of the liver by body fat. Fatty liver is persistent for some time and could lead to Cirrhosis even if the person doesn’t have Hepatitis B or is not consuming alcohol. In some cases, it could also lead to Hepatocellular carcinoma.

What are the lifestyle changes required when a person is diagnosed with fatty liver?

It is not tough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Simple modifications like being more active, a minimum of 35-40 minutes of daily exercise, losing excessive weight, maintaining blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reducing more than the required calorie intake from your diet, etc., could keep you from a sedentary lifestyle.

Is there any medication for fatty liver?

There are certainly lot of lifestyle changes recommended. Medicines are primarily given to control diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in a patient with fatty liver. Medicines to treat fatty liver have not proven to be 100% effective. Vitamin E is said to be effective, but again, not 100%.

How does one get affected by the Hepatitis B virus and how can we prevent it from spreading?

There could be many causes to Hepatitis

• At birth as an infection from the mother

• Receiving blood from an infected donor

• Unprotected sex with a patient

• Using comb or razor of an infected person, etc.

How can Hepatitis B be cured?

Hepatitis could be controlled but not removed. The medication can’t remove it completely but just reduce the multiplication of the virus.

Can I have a liver transplant if my liver fails?

It is an option in certain circumstances when the liver fails and if certain parameters are met then the liver transplant can happen. In certain cases, liver transplant can be safely undertaken and treatment of Hepatitis B has to be sorted after transplantation with both immunoglobulins and antiviral tablets. The important thing is to manage any liver disease medically. The challenge in liver transplant is that, it’s hard to find the organ, the cost involved, and the lifetime need of medication to prevent rejection.

I have Hepatitis B, but it’s not active. What should I do?

In these cases where the Hepatitis B is not active, the liver enzymes are in good condition. It is important to do a routine follow up every 3-6 months. Get the liver tests routinely done and start medications when required.

I have Hepatitis C. Can it be treated?

The way of transmission for Hepatitis C is the same as hepatitis B. It is a slow, lingering and a definite injury to the liver. However, unlike Hepatitis B, fortunately, we can remove Hepatitis C from the body through medications. The monthly cost for the medicines will roughly be 17-18 thousand rupees.

My 11 year old son had a liver transplanted due to Wilson’s disease. How can I keep his liver healthy?

Wilson’s disease is a genetic defect where there is excess amount of copper deposit in the body. It’s a condition where medicines are available to control the disease. In your case, where your son had to undergo a transplant, he is completely cured of Wilson’s disease. He needs to have a regular follow up with the transplant team and continue taking medicines probably for the rest of his life to ensure the acceptance of the transplanted organ by the body.

In some cases, people need to have a liver biopsy when the levels of liver enzymes go up. This is done in order to make sure that the medicines are working. Teenagers are advised to have a healthy and active lifestyle, maintain hygienic eating habits, and avoid alcohol, smoking and other habits that are injurious to health.