Fact or Fiction? 6 Myths About Your Liver

The liver is a vital organ in your body because it is responsible for filtering your blood, metabolizing drugs, and secreting bile. Without it, your body’s overall regulation will be affected by toxins building in your blood. As such, it’s important to keep your liver healthy by gathering factual information about it. To help you, here are some six myths about your liver.

Children Cannot Get Liver Disease

Newborns, young children, and teens can suffer from various forms of liver disease. These diseases may be due to genetics like Wilson’s disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and tyrosinemia. But some children acquire viruses and may develop Hepatitis A, B, and C. They may also be diagnosed with Biliary atresia and Alagille syndrome, where their liver suffers from blockages in the bile duct.

Obesity Doesn’t Affect Liver Function

Since fat in the liver can cause inflammation, an unhealthy diet and obesity can increase the risk of developing a non-alcoholic fatty disease. It may also leave you vulnerable to developing complications like fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. With the rising cases of obesity in the United States, there is also a rise in individuals suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—which experts[1] expect to surpass hepatitis C as the main cause for liver transplant in the next 30 years.

Liver Transplant Is the Only Cure for Liver Damage

Although a liver transplant can extend your life by replacing your damaged liver, it is not the only cure. Depending on the liver disease you have, there are other options apart from transplantation. For example, when treating hepatitis A, B, or C, you may be prescribed oral medications. On the other hand, sustainable weight loss is recommended to help treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

While receiving the transplant can help your body, your original disease may return and cause liver damage if the root cause is not properly treated. After the liver transplant, you may also develop an autoimmune disease or have the same virus affect the liver again.

Liver Diseases Can Be Detected with a Regular Blood Test

Consulting a doctor is always best to learn about the condition of your liver. However, it’s rare for doctors to include tests checking your liver in your annual check-ups unless they suspect possible issues. Unfortunately, certain signs and symptoms of the liver disease only become noticeable when the disease has become critical. The best way to handle this is to be aware of the risk factors for and symptoms of liver disease before discussing it with your doctor on your next check-up.

Regular Liver Cleanse Prevents Liver Diseases

Many products that promote detoxifying and cleansing your liver flood the market, but hepatologists do not recommend using them. These products lack adequate testing in clinical trials and are not regulated by the FDA. Although common ingredients in these liver cleanses have shown positive results, more data from clinical trials in humans are needed to recommend them as preventive products against liver disease. Some of the ingredients believed to help are milk thistle for liver inflammation and turmeric extract for protection against liver injury.

On the other hand, doctors recommend doing these preventive steps to help protect yourself from developing liver disease:

  • Avoid weight gain Eating healthy and exercising regularly can help decrease your risk of developing fat in your liver, which may lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Know your risk factors – It’s important to ask your doctor for a screening if you have a family history of liver disease, as chronic liver disease can remain undetected for years. Additionally, 50 percent of patients are not aware they are infected with hepatitis C so you might want to get screening if you have these risk factors:
    • Received a blood transfusion before 1992
    • Currently using or formerly used illicit substances
    • Living with HIV
    • Undergoing hemodialysis
    • Have been struck by needles infected with hepatitis C blood
    • Gotten tattoos under unregulated settings in the past
  • Limiting alcohol intake – To prevent alcoholic liver disease, the recommended maximum amount of consumption is three drinks per day for men and two drinks per day for women.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption Is the Only Cause of Liver Disease

Drinking alcohol excessively is not the only reason why you may develop liver disease. It may also be caused by genetics, a virus or, exposure to harmful toxins. However, years of excessive drinking remain to be one of the major causes. You may have started to drink alcohol as a way to relax or cope with stress, but becoming dependent on it to get through the day may be a sign of alcohol addiction. Other signs of alcohol addiction are:

  • Intense craving for alcoholic drinks
  • Inability to control cravings or to stop drinking alcohol
  • Having a habit of lying about drinking excessively
  • Increased tolerance for alcohol

If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to seek professional help before your drinking habit leads to severe health conditions. Your healthcare provider may advise you to enter a rehab facility to get treated. It can be a nearby facility or an out-of-state Phoenix drug rehab center where you can undergo detox and counseling to ensure your long-term recovery. Whichever you choose, it’s important to get treated immediately.

Hopkins Medicine

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