Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis is the #11 killer of American men.
There are many kinds of liver diseases and conditions. Some, like hepatitis, are caused by viruses. Others can be the result of drugs or drinking too much alcohol. Long-lasting injury or scar tissue in the liver can cause cirrhosis. Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, can be one sign of liver disease. (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIDDK)
Cirrhosis is a condition in which your liver is scarred and permanently damaged. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. As cirrhosis gets worse, your liver begins to fail. (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIDDK)
Ways to reduce your Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis risk:
Cleveland Clinic: How can I prevent cirrhosis of the liver?
Food and drink issues:
- Don’t abuse alcohol. If you do drink alcohol, limit how much you drink and how often. If you drink more than two drinks a day if you are a man or more than one if you are a woman, you are increasing your risk. A drink is a glass of wine or a 12-ounce can of beer or a 1.5 ounce serving of hard liquor. If you have liver disease, you should not drink alcohol at all.
- Eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. A well-balanced healthy diet consists of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
- Don’t eat raw seafood, especially oysters and clams. These foods can contain a bacteria that can cause serious illness.
- Cut back on the amount of salt in your diet. Use other seasonings to flavor your foods.
Healthy body habits:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess body fat can damage your liver. Ask your healthcare provider for a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Exercise regularly.
- See your healthcare provider regularly for check-ups. Follow medical recommendations to control obesity, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and cholesterol (high bad cholesterol [LDL] and/or low good cholesterol [HDL]) and high triglycerides.
- Quit smoking if you smoke.
Healthy liver practices:
- Avoid high-risk behaviors that can lead to infection with hepatitis B or C, such as sharing needles for illegal drug use or having unprotected sex.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis B. If you already have hepatitis, ask your provider if drug treatment is appropriate for you.
- Get your annual flu shot and ask if a pneumonia vaccine makes sense for you (people with cirrhosis are more likely to get infections).
- Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen [Advil®, Motrin®] indomethacin [Indocin®] celecoxib [Celebrex®] and aspirin) and high doses of acetaminophen (Tylenol®). Acetaminophen can be taken safely at a dose up to 2,000 mg daily. These drugs can cause or worsen liver function.
- Take all medications and keep all appointments as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Mayo Clinic: To prevent liver disease:
- Drink alcohol in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Heavy or high-risk drinking is defined as more than eight drinks a week for women and more than 15 drinks a week for men.
- Avoid risky behavior. Use a condom during sex. If you choose to have tattoos or body piercings, be picky about cleanliness and safety when selecting a shop. Seek help if you use illicit intravenous drugs, and don’t share needles to inject drugs.
- Get vaccinated. If you’re at increased risk of contracting hepatitis or if you’ve already been infected with any form of the hepatitis virus, talk to your doctor about getting the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.
- Use medications wisely. Take prescription and nonprescription drugs only when needed and only in recommended doses. Don’t mix medications and alcohol. Talk to your doctor before mixing herbal supplements or prescription or nonprescription drugs.
- Avoid contact with other people’s blood and body fluids. Hepatitis viruses can be spread by accidental needle sticks or improper cleanup of blood or body fluids.
- Keep your food safe. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating or preparing foods. If traveling in a developing country, use bottled water to drink, wash your hands and brush your teeth.
- Take care with aerosol sprays. Make sure to use these products in a well-ventilated area, and wear a mask when spraying insecticides, fungicides, paint and other toxic chemicals. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Protect your skin. When using insecticides and other toxic chemicals, wear gloves, long sleeves, a hat and a mask so that chemicals aren’t absorbed through your skin.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Resources for Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis help:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): Cirrhosis | https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/cirrhosis
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): Liver Disease | https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease
John Hopkins Medicine: Chronic Liver Disease/Cirrhosis | https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chronic-liver-disease-cirrhosis