Liver Damage: What Your Doctor Wants You To Know

Drinking alcohol, taking antibiotics, or having high blood pressure can potentially cause liver damage. Let’s find out what Apollo's doctor has to say about liver damage and treatment.

By URLife Team
17 Jun 2024

The human liver is pretty amazing. Every day, it makes bile, processes nutrients, detoxifies blood, breaks down fats, alcohol, and medications, regulates blood sugar and hormones, stores iron, and so much more. 

Dr. Sanjay Sikka, senior consultant—gastroenterology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi in the YouTube  provides insight on liver diseases. Dr. Sikka explains, “when people think about liver problems, alcohol often comes to mind first. However, many other factors can impact liver health. These include weight, certain medications, genetics, and even viral infections. One of the major causes is fatty liver. If someone is diagnosed and is not doing anything to treat the condition, it will gradually lead to liver damage. Liver damage can not only occur due to excessive alcohol intake but also from liver fibrosis, where there is a tissue scar on your liver. Another reason is cirrhosis, a condition where a lot of tissue builds up. Apart from these, hepatitis B and C are also major causes of liver damage”. 

Symptoms of liver disease include mild pain on the right side of the body, feeling tired, brain fog, swollen abdomen, yellowing of the skin or eyes, weight loss, or loss of appetite. 


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A 2023 report by the American Association of Retired Persons journal  states that one of the biggest concerns with liver disease is how silently it progresses. Your liver might be losing its ability to filter out harmful substances long before you notice any symptoms. In most cases, you won’t realise your liver has been damaged until you start experiencing the advanced symptoms of cirrhosis. This late-stage liver disease can cause severe health issues, making early detection and proactive care crucial.


Related story: Healing Your Liver: Fatty Liver 101


Why Your Liver Matters

Besides its many crucial roles, the liver has a remarkable ability: it can repair itself after damage. According to a 2023 study issued in the National Cancer Institute, the liver can regrow even after up to 90 per cent of it has been removed. However, this doesn't mean we can neglect our liver and expect it to bounce back on command.


Do Supplements Support Your Liver?

Given its many critical roles, it's no wonder we want to keep our livers in top shape. You might have seen “liver detox” or “liver cleanse” supplements that claim to help. But do these supplements really work, or are there simpler ways to support liver health?

Dr. Sikka further enlightens, “there are supplements out there claiming to support various liver functions. Whether it’s boosting immunity or energy, aiding digestion, detoxing the liver, or even repairing liver damage, these dietary supplements promise multiple benefits. These supplements can be a mix of herbs, vitamins, and minerals, or they can be sold as single-ingredient pills or powders. Common ingredients found in liver detox or liver cleanse supplements include:

  • Milk thistle
  • Turmeric
  • Dandelion root powder
  • Artichoke extract
  • Burdock extract
  • Chicory extract

While some of these ingredients have shown potential benefits—like milk thistle for reducing liver inflammation and turmeric for protecting against liver injuries—there isn’t enough solid evidence to recommend them for people with normal liver function”.

  • It's important to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements to ensure they are necessary and safe for your individual needs. 
  • When choosing a supplement, opt for reputable brands and look for third-party testing to guarantee quality and safety. 
  • Keep in mind that certain supplements can interact with medications or lead to side effects, so it's crucial to stay informed about what you're consuming.


Related story: Everything You Need To Know About Liver


Smart Ways To Improve Liver Health 

With the liver being so vital, taking steps to support it is essential. But before reaching for supplements, consider whether everyday actions might be more effective. Simple lifestyle choices can go a long way in keeping your liver healthy. So, let's explore some practical ways to give your liver the support it deserves!

1. Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can lead to fatty liver disease, which can progress to more serious liver damage. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help keep your liver in good shape.
2. Consume a wholesome diet: Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive sugar, salt, and processed foods.
3. Hydrate your liver: Drinking plenty of water helps your liver function properly and flush out toxins.
4. Limit alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol consumption is a major cause of liver damage. Drink in moderation or not at all.
5. Be cautious with certain medications: Some medications can harm your liver, especially when taken in high doses or mixed with alcohol. Always follow dosage instructions and consult your doctor about any potential risks.
6. Avoid toxins: Minimise exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins, such as those found in certain cleaning products, pesticides, and aerosols.
7. Get vaccinations on time: Vaccinations for hepatitis A and B can protect you from these viral infections that can cause liver damage.

Supporting your liver doesn't have to be complicated. Simple lifestyle choices like a healthy diet, regular exercise, staying hydrated, and avoiding excessive alcohol can make a significant difference. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement to ensure it's right for you. By taking these steps, you can help keep your liver functioning well and reduce the risk of liver-related issues.

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