When something is wrong with the liver, it has a serious effect on almost every organ in the body. The liver is the body’s filter and everything goes through it. Did you know that millions of people are living with Hepatitis C and they don’t know it? Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Alcohol, autoimmune diseases, and fat accumulation in the liver can cause hepatitis. However, viruses are the main causes of the disease. The most common are Hep. A, Hep. B, and Hep. C.
Hep. A is usually spread by ingesting something contaminated with traces of fecal matter. Hep. B is transmitted by sex, contact with blood, or through childbirth. Hep. C is spread through blood to blood contact such as through shared needles, shared razors, blood transfusions, organ transplants, and also needle pricks in some occupations.
Some people clear the virus in the acute phase within six months. Most people with Hep. C are left with a chronic infection. If untreated, Hep. C may cause mild to moderate liver scarring, cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, or death. The CDC recommends that people born between 1945 to 1965 get tested.
What can you do to protect your liver?
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A & B
- Don’t share anything with blood in it, even if you can’t see it. This includes equipment such as glucose monitors, nail clippers, razors, toothbrushes, and injectable drug equipment.
- Don’t exceed recommended amounts of Tylenol, iron, and Vitamin A.
- Eat a low fat, high fiber diet. Limit added sugars.
- Strive to maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
- Studies have shown that caffeinated coffee may protect the liver.
- Try to limit alcohol to 1 drink daily for women and 2 drinks daily for men. (Women retain more fat than men.)
Remember everything we eat, drink, smoke, breathe, and inject goes through the liver.