December 2, 2023

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Introducing lifestyle-related changes can help prevent liver disease, says Dr Rakesh Kochhar

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Mohali, April 18, 2023: Liver is the second largest and most complex organ in the human body. It is vital to the normal functioning of the human body and aids digestion, immunity and several metabolic functions. To spread awareness about liver and its associated disorders, World Liver Day is observed on 19th April every year. The theme of this year’s event is “Be Vigilant, Do Regular Liver Check-up, Fatty Liver Can Affect Anyone.”

Dr Rakesh Kochhar, Director, Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Fortis Hospital Mohali, in an advisory explains the common symptoms, causes, management and prevention of liver diseases.

Types of liver diseases
The most common types of liver diseases are as follows:

· Infectious hepatitis: This includes viral hepatitis, A, B, C, D and E and other infections like amebiasis and tuberculosis.

· Alcohol-induced liver disease: It is another preventable disease which can have serious consequences. It is linked to the amount and duration of alcohol ingested. “Cases of alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis have increased over time,” he added.

· Fatty liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: This affects 25-35% of the affluent population in India and has emerged as a leading cause of chronic liver disease. It is related to obesity and diabetes but also occurs in individuals with normal weight. “With India in the midst of an obesity epidemic and being the diabetes capital of the world, it is projected that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease will take a heavy toll in the coming years. Many drugs can also damage liver and some of the ayurvedic or herbal drugs are responsible for acute and chronic liver disease,” added Dr Kochhar.

· Drug-induced liver disease: A number of drugs can cause liver damage including certain antibiotics, anti-tubercular ,anti-epileptics and anti-cancer drugs. More importantly many herbal and ayurvedic drugs are increasingly being recognized as a cause of liver disease.

· Cirrhosis is the fibrotic reaction of the liver to many of the conditions listed above and can lead to hepatocellular carcinoma.

Symptoms
Dr Kochhar said patients with liver diseases exhibited common symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, lethargy, dark urine, jaundice, abdominal pain and swelling of feet.

Diagnosis
Liver diseases can be diagnosed by simple blood tests and ultrasound. Many of these diseases are preventable such as Hepatitis A and B; and alcoholic liver disease. Lifestyle changes with diet control, exercise and weight control can prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is important to seek timely and expert advice.

Prevention
Dr Kochhar said liver disease could be avoided through introducing certain lifestyle changes. “One should abstain from drinking as alcohol can harm the body. Include physical activity in your daily routine as it keeps the body fit. Keep your weight under check and ensure to consume a balanced diet. One should also limit sugar and salt intake, besides avoiding sugar-based beverages such as juice, soft drinks, sports drinks etc. Likewise,” added Dr Kochhar.

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