Liver Disease Information

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American Liver Foundation
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212-668-1000 Tel
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Home > Liver Awareness Month 2011

How to Love Your Liver


  • Avoid taking unnecessary medications (too many chemicals harm your liver)
  • Don’t mix medicines without the advice of a doctor (you could create something poisonous that could damage your liver badly)
  • Street drugs cause serious damage and scar your liver permanently
  • Don’t drown your liver in beer, liquor or wine (if you drink alcohol, have two or fewer drinks per day)
  • Never mix alcohol with other drugs & medicines
  • Be careful when using aerosol cleaners. Your liver has to detoxify what you breathe in, so when you go on a cleaning binge, make sure the room is well ventilated or wear a mask.
  • Bug sprays, paint sprays and all those other chemical sprays you use can harm your liver too. Be careful what you breathe.
  • Watch what gets on your skin (those insecticides you put on trees and shrubs to kill bugs can get to your liver right through your skin and destroy some cells)! Remember, they’re serious chemicals.

Hepatitis B and C - Contagious Viral Infections That Cause Chronic Liver Disease

  • Use caution and common sense regarding intimate contact (Hepatitis viruses live in body fluids, including blood and seminal fluid).
  • The hepatitis B virus also lives in saliva and, unlike the AIDS virus, can be transmitted through this fluid with relative ease.

  • Hepatitis C spreads primarily through direct blood contact, can be transmitted through contaminated needles use in tattooing, body piercing, or IV drug injection.

  • Untreated, chronic hepatitis B and C can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer and is the most frequent reason for liver transplants.

  • Many infected people do not have symptoms until liver damage occurs, sometimes many years later.

  • Teach your children what a syringe looks like and tell them to leave it alone.

  • Never, ever touch a discarded syringe or needle.

  • If you or your family has immigrated Africa, Southeast Asia, Mediterranean countries, or the Caribbean where hepatitis B affects up to 15% of the population, you should have a blood test to determine if you are a carrier. Your doctor can arrange this for you.

  • If you received a blood transfusion prior to 1990, you may have hepatitis C. As many as 300,000 people may have been infected in this way before the test for hepatitis C was developed.

  • If anyone in your family or a sexual partner tests positive for the hepatitis B virus, ask your doctor to test you for the virus. If the test is negative, your doctor will vaccinate you against the virus. A simple series of three vaccinations over six months will protect you against the virus for many years.

Who Else Should Be Tested For Hepatitis B and C

  • Users of intravenous drugs, particularly those who share their needles.

  • Men or women who have multiple sexual partners.

  • Health care (including ambulance) workers.

  • Staff of institutions for people with developmental disabilities.

  • Firefighters, police officers, mortuary attendants or daycare workers.

If You Test Positive For Hepatitis B or C…

  • Consult your doctor. He/she will determine whether you have liver disease and if you need referral to a specialist.
  • If you have hepatitis B, have your family tested. Those who have never contracted hepatitis B should be vaccinated.
  • Ask your doctor to screen for liver cancer in order to detect tumors while they are still small and treatable.
  • If you are a pregnant, hepatitis B-infected mother, you can pass the infection to your infants around the time of birth. More than 90% of this form of transmission can be prevented by vaccination of the baby.
  • Eat a well-balanced, nutritionally adequate diet. If you enjoy foods from each of the four food groups, you will probably obtain the nutrients you need.
  • Cut down on the amount of deep-fried and fatty foods you and your family consume. Doctors believe that the risk of gallbladder disorders (including gallstones, liver-related disease) can be reduced by avoiding high-fat cholesterol foods.
  • Minimize your consumption of smoked, cured and salted foods. Taste your food before adding salt! Or try alternative seasonings in your cooking such as lemon juice, onion, vinegar, garlic, pepper, mustard, cloves, sage or thyme.
  • Increase your intake of high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals. A high-fiber diet is especially helpful in keeping me healthy.
  • Rich desserts, snacks and drinks are high in calories because of the amount of sweetening (and often fat) they contain. Why not munch on some fruit instead?
  • Keep your weight close to ideal. Medical researchers have established a direct correlation between obesity and the development of gallbladder disorders.
  • If you are dieting to lose weight, make sure that you are still getting all the vitamins and minerals your body-and I! – need to function properly.
  • A regular exercise routine, two or three days a week, will help keep me healthy, too.

Trouble Signs…

  • Yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes
  • Abdominal swelling or severe abdominal pain.
  • Prolonged itching of the skin.
  • Very dark urine or pale stools, or the passage of bloody or tar-like stools.
  • Chronic fatigue, nausea or loss of appetite.

What To Do If You Have Liver Disease…

  • Follow your doctor’s advice on food, exercise and other lifestyle guidelines. Learn about liver disease and understand how your diet helps you. Learn what and how much you can eat and drink.
  • Contact the American Liver Foundation for a listing of offices near you. Join the Division, talking to other people who are also affected by liver disease will help.
  • Invite family and close friends to attend chapter meetings or any learning sessions your local chapter may hold.

The Limits of Transplants

While transplants are not the answer for eliminated liver disease (We need to find cures!) Transplants are the only hope for survival many liver disease patients have. But there just are not enough organ donors to meet the demand.

  • Consider donating your organs in the event of your death. You can sign the organ donor card on your driver’s license if your state has such a program or obtain an organ donor card from the American Liver Foundation. Be sure to discuss your wishes with your family and your family doctor.

Help Us Continue This Important Work!

  • Support the American Liver Foundation with a tax-deductible donation. Whatever you can afford to give $15, $25 or $50, would be greatly appreciated.
  • Considering leaving a gift to the American Liver Foundation in your will. Contact our National office for a free pamphlet on our planned giving program.
  • You may also wish to name the American Liver Foundation as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.
  • If you can spare just a few hours a week, consider becoming a volunteer for the American Liver Foundation.
  • See your doctor for a check-up on a regular basis. Remember, prevention is always the best medicine.
  • Take care of yourself in everything you do. Be a healthy LIVEr-keep a healthy liver.

Page updated: October 7th, 2011


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