World Liver Day is observed on April 19 every year to create enough awareness about the second largest organ in the human body, Liver!
While many awareness campaigns in the physical and virtual platforms are usually held on this day by hospitals, NGOs and Government Bodies under Health Ministry, the threat of COVID-19 has limited the activities.
In connection with this day, The Covai Mail spoke to several doctors at PSG Hospitals who specialize in liver treatment, and gathered many information about the organ, the diseases it is prone to, the treatment modalities that are available and the ways to prevent oneself from Liver disease.
The Awareness about liver health is missing!
-Dr. J.S.Bhuvaneswaran, Director, PSG Super Speciality Hospital
Liver is a very important organ in the human body. Almost 1/5th of the total blood in circulation flows through the liver. It does so many valuable operations in the body including removal of impurities and toxic substances, yet the awareness about Liver and Liver Diseases are less among the people.
This valuable organ is vulnerable to many infections, some of them could be even life-threatening. This World Liver Day aims to create awareness about Liver’s health.
One should know that liver diseases don’t often give out any alarming symptoms. They come very silent and mild until they turn serious. Hence it is very important to know about liver diseases.
Should any problem with liver arise, you can count on PSG Hospitals for the best treatment. We have the expertise and the state of the art equipment to treat all forms of liver disease. Our wish for you is to be healthy but if you have any sickness, we strongly advise you to get it examined at the earliest and get cured.
Things you need to know about Liver!
-Dr.P.Maheswaran, Consultant Hepato Pancreato Billiary and Multi Organ Transplant Surgeon, PSG Hospitals
Did you know that both the heart and liver start to form and develop at the same time? Yes, Liver starts to develop in the body of fetus when it is 22 days old in its mother’s womb. After hair and nails, liver is the only organ, which grows (regenerates) after a part has been removed.
Liver does so many complex functions in the body. It produces the proteins that our body needs and secretes bile, which helps in digestion of fat. It breaks down the carbs, protein and fats in the food we eat. After all the nutrients are absorbed, it also helps to carry away the waste. In short this organ is like a smart-factory that builds what the users need and dumps what is harmful and not required.
Certain infections and diseases threaten liver health. For some types of liver diseases that are caused by virus, vaccines are provided when we are young, but that does not give any assurance that it can keep the organ safe from all threats.
Liver can be infected by bacteria, viruses and parasites, which end up in causing liver abscess, hepatitis and parasitic cysts. While some liver diseases are congenital and some are caused by metabolic abnormality, Alcohol is the most common cause for vast number of Indians getting affected by Liver diseases.
Autoimmune hepatitis is another condition where liver inflammation occurs as a person’s body’s immune system turns against liver cells. Continuous inflammation of the liver cells by any of the above reasons can cause another life-threatening liver disease called Cirrhosis.
Liver cirrhosis is the commonest chronic liver disease, which develops when the damaged liver tissue is replaced by a scar. Over a period of time when the liver damage continues, extensive scar develops like a circle and the liver cells inside of it grows to do the function can form nodules. If Cirrhosis is not properly handled in time, it can cause liver failure.
Apart from Alcohol and viral infection, obesity also paves way to another liver disease called Fatty Liver Disease. When there is excess of fat stored in the liver, it leads to this disease, which can also cause its failure.
Few cancers can affect the liver – from liver cells, bile ducts and cancer from different organs can spread into the liver.
Liver problem does not mean that it is the end of the world for the patients. There are lots of treatment options available nowadays. Medical management options, surgical option and transplant options are available today depending on the type of liver condition one suffers from.
But I would advise the public to cut the alcohol, follow healthy diet, do regular exercise and consult the doctor at regular intervals for any liver issues to protect the liver health.
Vaccinate even if you’re Hepatitis- B negative!
– Dr.L.Venkatakrishnan, Head, Gastroenterology & Hepatology Dept., PSG Hospitals
Take any liver disease, it seems to be more prevalent in men than women in India. One of the reasons for that could be the gender ratio. Men are more in our country than women. Similarly, some liver diseases that are induced by alcohol are more common in men than women.
It is true that the per capita consumption of alcohol is more in men. But women who take liquor must know that the chances of Alcohol induced liver disease is high for them if they take just 2 rounds of liquor per day for 5 years, whereas for men, it is 5 rounds of liquor per day for 5 years.
Though women are not known to take liquor in our society, there remains a practice of alcohol consumption among females nowadays. Such women must be careful not to damage their liver due to this habit. Did you know that the alcohol consumption has increased 25% in India in the last 10 years?
The exposure to Hepatitis B and C are more in men. Since men are known to take large quantity of liquor, they will have high risks of Hepatitis C. Some liver disease including auto-immune liver disease, primary biliary cirrhosis etc. are often found more in women.
Fatty Liver Disease is on the rise !:
Fatty Liver Disease is a type of liver disease that is truly a real problem in the current scenario. The accumulation of too much fat in the liver cells has the possibility to damage the liver and cause Cirrhosis. After the year 2000, such liver disease cases are increasing much in the world. A statistics points out that more than 10 million cases prevail in India every year.
While excessive alcohol consumption can lead to fatty liver disease, people with diabetes, obesity, following sedentary lifestyle can face Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Prior knowledge about these risk factors, and proper management of our health is crucial to keep ourselves far from these disease.
It was recently discovered that children can inherit liver disease from father or mother, if either of them already had alcoholic liver disease. If the mother had Hepatitis B, it can also be inherited by the child. Similarly Wilson’s Disease (a type of liver disease) is also inheritable.
You won’t find symptoms that easily!:
In most cases, people won’t find any symptoms till the liver disease has caused 80% damage to the organ. People who have alcoholic liver disease may not have encountered jaundice for 20 years but there are chances for them to be gradually suffering from cirrhosis, Hepatitis B or C. There won’t be prior indication even when there is Liver Cancer, until the toll is serious.
Hepatitis B and C could be found incidentally. When a master health checkup is done, or when tests are done during pregnancy, the presence of Liver disease due to infection could be found. Once it is ascertained, it must be eradicated.
If people are tested negative for the Hep. B and Hep.C, vaccination must be sought to avoid future encounter. People with excessive usage of alcohol should be made to quit it. They should be taken to a psychiatrist who can advise solutions to quit it. There is a myth here that those who visit psychiatrist have mental issues. That is not the case. People should be supportive in making an alcoholic person in their family drop the habit. For patients with NAFLD, measures to manage it must be deployed without wasting time.
It may come as a shock to many that due to Hepatitis B, India loses 750 Million Rupees per year. The burden is increasing in the country and families are collapsing when their breadwinner/homemaker becomes sick with liver disease.
There are good medicines available today to cure Hep.C but time is of the essence. At PSG Hospitals, we check patients for presence of Hepatitis even if they come for any other disease, because ignoring the presence of liver disease can damage the organ. If we find the patients to be Hepatitis B and C negative, we recommend vaccination to shield them from the disease.
Covid & Liver :
For a person with covid-19 but with no previous tussle with liver disease, the pandemic does not hold a greater threat, although it may cause some disruptions. But for people with pre-existing liver disease, the virus can increase the effect of Hep B and C, and may also increase the liver cell failure rates.
Timely intervention gives better results
-Dr.K.Balu, Surgical Gastroenterologist & Laparoscopic Surgeon
Can liver diseases spread to other organs?
Well, it depends on the type of liver disease. For instance, Liver cancer has the potency to spread and affect other organs. If Liver cancer is identified in advanced stages, then there are very high chances that the disease had already spread to other organs.
If any other liver disease hurts the liver so bad, then its functionality will certainly be affected. When the liver fails to perform at its capacity, it can disrupt the proper functioning of heart, lungs, kidneys and even the brain. So through this way, Liver can disturb the major organ’s functioning.
Early detection is key to healing
Most of the liver diseases are completely curable. Getting cured from these disease depends on the stage at which they are detected. If Hep.B and Hep.C are found in its early stages, then if proper anti-viral treatment is given, the impact of the virus could be stopped and the organ can be fixed before it enter cirrhosis stage.
Chronic Liver diseases like Steatosis and Early Fibrosis are curable. With the right kind of intervention, the cause of these ailment could be controlled and that will heal the organ. When the alcohol consumption is cut, proper exercises are followed, weight is lowered and timely medication is taken, the patient can live a normal life.
But if the disease is in the cirrhosis stage, the functioning of liver can be affected easily. This can lead to liver failure. At this stage, when medication cannot be of help in recovering the patient, Liver Transplantation procedure is the last resort. To all the end-stage liver diseases, Liver Transplant option is a boon. For the transplant to be successful the liver must be accepted by the patient’s body. If it accepts the newly implanted organ, then the patient is free from the liver disease.
Best Treatment is available here
For the best treatment of liver disease, we need not go anywhere away from Coimbatore. This city is one of the leading medical hubs. Leading hospitals like PSG can offer quality treatment for all the diseases. From the common Liver treatments to the complex procedures like Transarterial chemoembolization or TACE and Liver Transplantation, we have the expertise and the infrastructure.
For the right patients who cannot afford the cost of liver transplant, if they are eligible under CM’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme, we have the provision to perform the procedure under the scheme here.
Apart from this, PSG Hospitals is a trust-run hospital that is for the poor. Our management also takes into consideration of the patient’s financial level, and provides them support.