Maximize your liver health with our specialist advice
The liver is a vital organ that performs many essential functions. It’s the largest solid organ in the body and weighs about 1.3 Kgs. It is located under the rib cage on the upper right side. The liver processes everything one eats, drinks, breathes, and absorbs through the skin. It turns nutrients into energy which the body uses to perform various functions, and removes harmful substances from the blood. It also makes bile to digest food, makes clotting factors to control bleeding, and helps our bodies fight infection.
When there is extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol, it is known as Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Though it is normal for the liver to contain some fat. If more than 5% – 10% percent of the liver’s weight is fat, then it is known as a fatty liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease causes the liver to swell. A swollen liver can be the cause of scarring (cirrhosis) over time and is one of the major liver cancer causes or liver failure. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, almost 32% of Indian population is suffering from liver problems.The Doctor may suspect Fatty liver disease if blood tests show unusually high levels of liver enzymes.
Symptoms of liver problems are usually not visible it the time it reaches an advance stage. However, you need to watch out for fatigue, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, spider-like blood vessels, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), itching, fluid build up and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites), and mental confusion and get in touch with a liver doctor immediately for guidance on liver disease treatment.
Until a while ago conducting a liver biopsy was the only way to diagnose cirrhosis and assess liver damage. It was considered to be a complicated and expensive treatment. With the advent of non-invasive tests, such as Fibroscan, to stage the severity of liver disease (ie. scarring), there is a more simple, safe and efficient way to estimate liver scarring. Fibroscan is used to measure the hardness (or stiffness) of the liver by measuring the velocity of a vibration wave (also called a ‘shear wave’) generated on the skin. With the patient lying straight on the back, an ultrasound-like probe is placed on the skin over the liver area. The patient feels a gentle ‘flick’ each time a vibration wave is generated by the probe. Typically the test takes around 10 minutes to perform and causes no patient discomfort. In general, patients should have fasted for at least 2 hours before the procedure, although specific instructions may sometimes vary.
Fibroscan is very useful in the assessment of patients with chronic liver disease, including chronic hepatitis C, chronic hepatitis B, chronic alcohol abuse and fatty liver. It works on the principle that as more fibrosis and scarring occur, the higher the liver stiffness will be. This test is used to:
- Estimate the existing degree of liver damage.
- Monitor disease progression or regression via regular monitoring.
- Guide prognosis, management and treatment.
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help prevent liver damage from starting or reverse it in the early stages.
- See a liver doctor on a regular basis.
- Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your liver health.
- If you are overweight or obese,lose weight.
- Lower your cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Control your diabetes.
- Avoid alcohol.
At Park Hospitals, we are equipped with the latest equipment,technology and specialists to promote liver health and wellness. Get in touch with a liver doctor today to know how to keep your liver healthy as well as setting specific plans to maximize liver health by changing unhealthy lifestyles.
DR. LALIT KUMAR KURREY
MBBS, MD (MEDICINE, AIIMS), DM(GASTROENTEROLOGY)