The liver, which measures about 1,00 grams in weight and 15 cm in length, is responsible for the synthesis of various proteins, coagulation factors, cholesterol, triglycerides and bile including glycogenesis. It is also responsible for detoxifications of drugs, alcohol and control of infections. Located in the upper right part of the abdomen separated from chest cavity by the diaphragm, it is one the most vital organs in the body.
However, the graph of liver disease in India has grown over the decade and the dynamics has changed drastically, says Dr (Prof) Gourdas Choudhuri, executive director, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Fortis Memorial Research Institute.
“Earlier liver diseases were synonyms with Hepatitis B and C only, but today we see lot of cases of liver failure, fatty liver, and every year about 10 lakh people with new liver disease are diagnosed in our country,” he says.
On World Liver Day, which is observed every year on April 19 to create awareness and understand the importance of the liver, he lists a few liver diseases and also shares tips on how to take care of the organ:
A few known liver diseases:
1. Hepatitis A, B or C
2. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
3. Alcoholic fatty liver
4. Fatty liver
5. Cirrhosis of the liver
6. Alcoholic hepatitis
You must visit a doctor in case you have the follow symptoms:
1. Unexplained abdominal pain and swelling which is continuous in nature.
2. Itchy and red skin around the stomach. Regular red patches around the stomach and skin are primary indication of something being wrong inside.
3. Dark urine is another early sign of liver disease. No matter how hydrated you are, if your urine is dark in colour you must visit a doctor.
4. Loss of appetite.
5. Blood in stool, or pale or tar-coloured stool.
6. Swelling in legs and ankles.
7. Nausea or vomiting.
To prevent liver diseases you must keep your lifestyle and weight in check, he suggests. Protection is the best cure for liver diseases.
“Protect yourself from hepatitis infected people and alcohol. Vaccination is another important part to avoid liver disease although there are no vaccination for all liver diseases but there are for Hepatitis A & B. Sharing of drugs and needles are also the major cause of liver disease, avoid it at any cost. Unprotected sex, tattoo and piercing from same needles or infected needles with same drugs has the highest risk of liver disease,” Dr (Prof) Gourdas Choudhuri adds.
Tips for liver care:
1. Adopt a healthy lifestyle and have a balanced diet.
2. Eat foods from all the food groups: grains, proteins, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and fats. Include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, apple and walnut in your diet.
3. Eat foods that have lot of fibre such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals such as quinoa, millet and buckwheat.
4. Ensure safe blood transfusions to avoid contracting hepatitis A, B, C.
5. Maintain personal hygiene and be sure to wash hands after using the washroom.
6. Avoid tap water when travelling.
7. Say no to alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
8. Exercise regularly.