The liver converts the nutrients we eat into elements essential for health and well-being.
The liver isn’t what I call a celebrity organ – organs like the heart, lungs and brain make the three most talked about list. And, in fact, many take the liver for granted.
I describe the liver as the body’s factory. It takes in the food we eat and converts the nutrients into the cellular building blocks, hormones, antibodies and enzymes essential for health and well-being.
Keeping your liver healthy boils down to avoiding the 4 major risks:
- Viral infections
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Liver toxic medications – prescription, herbal and over the counter
Today I’m talking about viral hepatitis.
How common: about 4,000 U.S. persons
Risks: ingesting food contaminated with infected feces; homelessness, IV drugs, contact with infected persons, international travel, men who have sex with men (MSM)*
Prevention: avoid risks, wash hands; observe healthy food handling rules; practice safe sex; get vaccinated
Treatment: supportive care, usually recover after several weeks, can lead to death, however
Chronic forms: not generally
How common: about 850,000 U.S. persons
Risks: exposure to infected blood, semen, bodily fluids through sex, transfusion, contaminated needles, toothbrushes; birthing infant exposed through hepatitis B positive mother; MSM*
Prevent: avoid risks/exposure; practice safe sex; vaccination
Treatment: supportive care
Chronic forms: yes; leads to liver failure, liver cancer, death
How common: about 3.5 million U.S. persons
Risks: persons born between 1945 & 1965; exposure to infected blood, semen, bodily fluids through sex, transfusion, contaminated needles; birthing infant exposed through hepatitis C positive mother; MSM*
Prevent: avoid risks/exposure; practice safe sex
Treatment: in acute phase supportive care; in chronic phase medications available and include, for example, Harvoni, Mavyret, and Epclusa
Chronic forms: yes, medications now available cure 90% of those infected; cirrhosis, liver failure, death if left untreated
This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! Power your path to happiness. Prevent and avoid viral hepatitis and look for my next segment on hepatitis where I double down on alcohol and medications toxic to the all-important and life essential liver.
*MSM (men who have sex with men)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019. What is Viral Hepatitis. Online [available at]: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm Accessed April 20, 2019.
Health and Human Services, 2016. Viral Hepatitis in the United States: Data and Trends. Online [available at]: https://www.hhs.gov/hepatitis/learn-about-viral-hepatitis/data-and-trends/index.html Accessed April 21, 2019.