The liver is often considered one of the least understood and under-appreciated organs. But it’s something that residents of Costa Mesa and elsewhere should make the effort to learn more about, especially if they’re considering home health care.
The team at Accredited Home Care likes to let our clients know all about how all their organs work and work together. They also enjoy sharing recommendations to help clients take steps to make their organs work better, or at least avoiding behaviors or conditions that could hurt them.
For instance, when the liver works well, it can help filter out all sorts of toxins and harmful chemicals that have entered the body. It also secretes bile that helps break down fat, and it also stores glucose.
But when the liver isn’t working optimally, all sorts of unpleasant and painful things can result. Bile ducts could become clogged which can cause inflammation. Too many toxins over an extended period of time can affect the liver’s ability to filter well, causing other potential problems.
Importance of liver health
Part of the reason for a larger focus is that there is an increase in reports of liver diseases and liver cancers and a push to increase awareness.
The Liver Foundation reports that liver cancer rates have tripled in 36 years, and increased 3 percent every year since 2003. Even more concerning is that these rates are expected to grow, and by 2035, could be 40 percent higher, about 40,000 people suffering from liver cancer or bile duct cancer.
The foundation also said there are more than 100 types of liver disease out there, and many people may have them but don’t know about it.
Some, like hepatitis and cancer, are more prominent, but people can also have other diseases as well especially if someone is particularly obese – fatty tissue seems to contribute to liver problems.
It’s important to focus on liver health all year long, but October has been designated as an opportunity for people to learn more.
Liver Awareness Month and Liver Cancer Awareness Month encourage people to learn about the important role the liver provides, increase their knowledge of liver disease and risk factors, and encourage people to get checked out. This could take the form of asking for a screening if there is an area of concern or simply beginning a discussion with a provider at an annual physical or another check-up.
It could also take the form of taking steps to help your own liver or encouraging loved ones to take steps to take better care of theirs.
Health experts say lifestyle and diet are big culprits in affecting overall health, including liver health. These can both contribute to obesity and various harmful matter in the bloodstream.
People looking for other ways to take care of their liver should focus on these areas:
- Quit drinking. Or if you’re unable to do this without help, at least reduce your volume of alcohol consumption. The connection between alcohol and liver health is generally known, but a reminder never hurts. Generally, the more alcohol in the body over time, the more difficult it is for a liver to function at standard levels. Alcohol can also contribute to a condition called cirrhosis, which is when liver cells begin to swell and cause scarring.
- Get checked for hepatitis. This is a good idea regardless for your own peace of mind and general health. But for liver health, the various viruses can do a large amount of damage. This includes Hepatitis B and C, along with autoimmune hepatitis and a variety of other related diseases. There aren’t cures for some forms, but if you are positively diagnosed with it, you can begin to take steps to minimize its effects or alert your provider and family. Being aware of hepatitis also can mean looking for ways to avoid it, such as staying away from possible contaminations such as blood or other fluids.
- Watch your medicine. As people age or develop more health conditions, they often are prescribed more medications to help various symptoms. Sometimes, these can react badly with each other or cause additional health problems. A provider who is concerned about your liver health needs to be aware of what you are taking and possible effects, including acetaminophen. This is common in many prescription and even over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol but can hurt the liver in large quantities. Some medications can increase their damage if you take them with alcohol.
- Eat better. A diet rich in natural ingredients will be easier for the liver to process, rather than foods containing artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors. Someone with higher cholesterol is also at higher risk for liver problems than someone who focuses on a stronger diet. One common condition that can come from a poor diet is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. This can produce similar conditions such as cirrhosis even if the person doesn’t drink much or at all.
- Avoid toxins. Beyond possible exposure to potentially dangerous items in food and medicine, people can also increase their risk by activities like smoking, vaping, illegal drugs or other ways to inhale into your bloodstream.
People receiving home health are welcome to ask representatives from Accredited Home Care further questions about liver health.