The liver often gets neglected until something goes wrong. When it does and the liver is infected or damaged, the results are often quite serious. Given that this largest organ of the body serves so many functions to sustain life, it is important to prevent liver disease wherever possible. Follow these tips to give your liver a fighting chance.
Things You'll Need
- Information on medications
- Travel information
- Bottled water
- Safe sex practices
Examine the side-effects of medications you take, including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Look for any warnings involving liver toxicity or hepatic damage. Consult with a health provider for alternatives if necessary and ensure that multiple medications will not add to your risk. For example, while acetaminophen is relatively safe in moderate doses, when combined with other pain killers, the potential for liver damage increases substantially.
Prevent liver disease by avoiding excess alcohol intake, including alcohol binges with periods of abstinence. Some liver disease is cumulative from repeated insults. Though the liver is known for its ability to regenerate cells, once dead cells turn fibrous and cirrhosis develops, the damage becomes irreversible.
Practice good nutrition. Though most liver disease is not related to food intake nor is one able to typically prevent liver disease with food, there are some correlations. Fatty liver is more common with obesity and individuals with diabetes. Malnutrition, including that due to alcohol abuse, may also cause fatty liver disease. Some studies show that caffeine may help prevent liver disease, but the results are not conclusive.
Use safe practices when engaging in sexual activity, including a careful choice of sex partners and using protection against sexually transmitted disease. Hepatitis, which can be mild to fatal, is often passed through bodily fluids or blood, depending on the type, so protection is not fail-proof. Some partners may be carriers of Hepatitis A, B or C yet not exhibit symptoms. Knowing your partner's sexual history and getting tested for hepatitis is good practice to prevent this type of liver disease.
Avoid needles that may have been used by someone else or otherwise exposed to blood. Though hepatitis is more commonly transmitted by illicit drug users, it it not the only cause involving needles. Body piercings or tattoos obtained in non-hygienic, if not illegal, conditions pose a threat. Use licensed well-maintained facilities for any procedure that breaks the skin.
Check for outbreaks of hepatitis before traveling abroad and avoid these areas if possible. Additionally, drink bottled water and select dining establishments with a good reputation through travel or tourism guides.
Contact your physician for liver enzyme testing if you have engaged in high-risk behavior for liver disease or if you experience liver disease symptoms, not limited to jaundice or pain. Early detection may prevent more damage from existing liver disease or alert the patient that elevated levels are present. Elevated levels may return to normal in some cases when the damaging agent such as alcohol or medication is eliminated.