April is Alcohol Awareness month, a time that is used to spread alcoholism awareness and related complications. It’s a time to learn more about the effects that liquor can have on the body and how health can be affected by an increased intake in consumption of alcoholic beverages. Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the most common types of liver disease that can occur due to scaring of the tissue in the liver. While there is nothing that can be done to reverse the cirrhosis, there are some tips that prevent the damage from getting worse.
1. Stop Drinking. One of the largest contributors to the development of cirrhosis is the large consumption of alcohol. When the body takes alcohol in, it is processed and filtered by the liver. A large intake or prolonged episodes of drinking can cause permanent damage and tissue scaring to the liver, resulting in cirrhosis. If you have already been diagnosed with the disease it is extremely important to change to life style of sobriety. Continuing to drink after diagnosed can further the disintegration of the healthy cells in the liver and lead to further complications.
2. Change medications. In addition to alcohol there are many drugs, but over the counter and otherwise, that can contribute to the decay of the cells in the liver. Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is one example of a drug that can cause damage to the liver. Cirrhosis can occur if enough of the drug is taken for a prolonged period. Like the effects that alcohol has on the body. These are considered dose-dependent medications that can cause damage. Idiosyncratic toxicity is another way that the liver can be damaged though this is not done by an abuse or over use of medication, and instead can be caused by a genetic predisposition in the body that harms the liver. If suffering from cirrhosis, it’s best to consult your doctor or physician before using any new medications.
3. Low-Sodium Diet. Cirrhosis and a damaged liver can cause the body to stop producing as much bile, which helps in the absorption of fats and cholesterol. As the liver is damaged and the effects of the disease become more severe, a signal is sent to the kidneys to retain water and salt. This will result in the retention of water in certain areas of the bodies like the lower extremities and the abdomen. The increased content of salt in the body can also lead to further complications inside of the person suffering. Having a low intake of salt and salty food can reduce the inflammations. Anti-inflammatory foods like strawberries, leafy greens, and healthy fats, can assist in reducing the amount of salt that is held in the body.
4. Liver Transplant. If the liver has been so badly damaged that it has caused enlarged blood vessels and bleeding in certain parts of the body- a liver transplant and surgery is the only answer. There are many people across the country that have needed a liver transplant. On average the procedure is performed in the United States about 6,000 times each year. This may seem like a high number of transplants, yet there is an even higher number of individuals still on the waiting list for the procedure. As of early 2015 the list of those waiting or needing a liver transplant contained 17,000 different individuals. The process is lengthy and involves finding a match for the donation and even if you do find one typically changes to a lifestyle are needed to ensure that the new liver doesn’t deteriorate as well.
While the only real treatment for Cirrhosis is going through the process of a liver transplant, there are many steps that can be taken today to ensure cirrhosis of the liver never occurs! Cutting out smoking and reducing alcohol consumption are two major ways that one can prevent liver disease. Maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle is another way to stay healthy and ensure that the liver is functioning properly. While this will help to reduce the risk of liver disease, it can still occur.
If there is a reason to believe that you or a loved one might be suffering from a diseased liver or would like to learn more about Alcohol Awareness month contact the Digestive and Liver Disease Center in San Antonio. We have prided ourselves on setting the standard for quality and personalized care in San Antonio, and we are dedicated to helping you.