One of the most important organs of the human body, whose role cannot be underestimated, is the liver. What tasks does it perform, how to understand what is not working in full force, can you help yourself on your own and when you need to run to the doctor? Says Medical Note.
The main tasks of the liver
The name of this body comes from the word “furnace”, and indeed – it is a kind of heating pad. Its temperature is slightly higher than in the armpit or in the mouth (where the thermometer is traditionally placed). Therefore, one of the tasks of the liver is to maintain optimal body temperature.
But beyond that, there are several more features.
Many people know that the liver is an important organ that disinfects toxins. It produces various enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of a large number of chemicals.
For example, ethanol: it synthesizes alcohol dehydrogenase, which transforms ethyl alcohol into harmless compounds (carbon dioxide, water, etc.). The absence of this enzyme leads to the fact that a person does not tolerate alcoholic beverages, gets drunk from cork, as they say.
All those foods that a person eats, are split and with blood flow into the liver, where they undergo further processing. The same applies to most drugs.
The liver is the most important fighter against allergies. It splits large protein molecules into smaller ones, and there is no violent hypersensitivity reaction on them.
In addition, the liver itself produces the necessary compounds and vitamins: cholesterol, phospholipids, bile acids, bilirubin, insulin-like growth factor. It is a fairly large amount of blood, which, if necessary, is released into the peripheral bloodstream.
What threatens the health of the liver?
Given the amount of work that this body does, it can be concluded that life without it is impossible, and liver disease seriously affects the state of the body.
However, the liver is also unique in that it has a high capacity for regeneration. If the provoking factor ceases to destroy it, it quickly recovers and again begins to fully function.
This explains the fact that the first signs of toxic hepatitis and cirrhosis develop in people who abuse alcohol after years, or even decades of life, with an addiction.
True, there are many other provocative factors besides alcohol – hepatotoxic drugs (painkillers, antibiotics, etc.), the presence of gallstones, addiction to fatty, fried, smoked foods, various food additives, flavor enhancers, stabilizers and other compounds that injected into food products to improve their qualities.
And even if you adhere to a healthy lifestyle and take care of the liver, this is not a guarantee of safety: there is such a form of the disease as autoimmune hepatitis, which occurs when excessive activity of the immune system against its own cells.
In addition, about 8 million people with hepatitis C live in our country and this infection can be infected anywhere: in a tattoo parlor, during manicure, epilation, and even in a hospital.
Hepatitis A and B do not lose their relevance, despite the fact that they have somewhat subsided in recent years.
How to suspect liver disease
The liver is a patient and enduring organ that can process a lot of toxic compounds that people eat with food and drinks. However, a moment comes when its regenerative properties begin to decline, and then it stops working at full strength.
The list of liver diseases is not so long – hepatitis, cirrhosis, fibrosis, hepatosis, cancer, hemangiomas, cysts and parasitic lesions. There are several types of hepatitis, each of which has its own characteristics.
Generally speaking, the main symptoms to suspect liver pathology are the following:
skin acquires an icteric shade, it is especially clearly visible on skin folds; the whites of the eyes also become yellowish; there is intense pruritus; the stool may be normal or may become very light; urine becomes very dark; spider veins appear on the skin; the stomach becomes larger due to an enlarged liver.
Not every disease in a patient reveals all these symptoms at once, just as their absence does not guarantee the absence of pathology.
What to do if there is a suspicion of liver pathology
Of course, the most correct answer to this question is to go to the doctor. However, this is not always possible. In addition, his consultation will be as informative as possible when the patient has previously undergone certain studies and will show them the results during the conversation. Among them are the following:
complete blood and urine analysis, feces analysis; biochemical analysis of total and direct bilirubin, total protein, alkaline phosphatase, LDH, fibrinogen; ultrasound of the liver, gallbladder, pancreas; blood for markers for hepatitis B and C, HIV infection.
This is the necessary minimum, which will help to get a fairly accurate picture of the state of the organ. On the basis of their doctor in 90% of cases will be able to diagnose. In unclear cases, he will refer to a CT scan of the liver and other necessary methods.
What drugs are used
Viral hepatitis is treated with the help of special antiviral agents, autoimmune forms – with the help of drugs that suppress the activity of the immune system. In the presence of cholelithiasis, the question of prompt removal of the gallbladder is raised.
Hepatoprotectors are drugs that are claimed to help normalize the metabolic processes in the liver and improve its regenerative properties. These include several groups that are widely known to the inhabitants of our country:
phospholipids (Essentiale, Essliver, etc.); peroxidation inhibitors (Octolipen, Thiogamma, Berlition, etc.); preparations of bile acids (Ursosan, Ursofalk, Exhol, etc.); herbal preparations (Allohol, Hofitol, Karsil, etc.).
All of them, with a few exceptions, are prescription, that is, they are sold only after a medical examination and examination.
In our country, they are extremely popular, while in Europe and America and they are very cold: there is no such group of drugs as hepatoprotectors at all. Many of them in the West are sold as dietary supplements, as they were not allowed to be sold as medicines.
Can I independently help my liver stay healthy and healthy for a long time? Yes, just do not disturb her. Do not destroy it with alcohol, nicotine and dubious quality food.
When taking drugs that have a toxic effect on the liver, be careful. She will respond with gratitude and give you many years of healthy and happy life.
Insidious hepatitis C
Among all liver diseases, there is one that is distinguished by a special cunning of the course. This is hepatitis C, which doctors also call the “gentle killer.” In the world, more than 150 million people are infected with the virus that causes this disease.
The causative agent is spread in the same way as the human immunodeficiency virus, therefore, these two infections are often detected in patients at once. It is transmitted through blood, initially this disease was especially prevalent among drug addicts and homosexuals.
However, now you can get anywhere: in the office of manicure, pedicure, shugaring, tattoo parlor or office of permanent makeup. From the moment of infection to the first symptoms may take several years.
For years, a person may not know that he has been ill for a long time, forgot that he once had a dubious connection or once tried an injection drug.
The first symptoms are nonspecific: weakness, malaise, slight fever, heaviness in the right hypochondrium, loss of memory. Many people live with this for years and turn to the doctor already when the disease goes into the stage of cirrhosis, the process of destruction of the liver tissue becomes irreversible.
Most often, hepatitis C is detected during a medical examination when applying for a job or when registering for pregnancy, when trying to donate blood as a donor, that is, quite by accident.
How to treat hepatitis C
The positive thing is that every fifth person has a spontaneous recovery. However, the others need treatment, because without it, the virus gradually destroys the liver, leading to the appearance of cirrhosis, cancer, liver failure.
Before the start of therapy, the doctor must establish the genotype of the causative agent of the disease, because each option requires its own special course.
The first drugs used to treat hematite C were interferons. They gave a small percentage of cure (from 40 to 70% depending on the type of virus), had many side effects, but this was the only way out for patients.
The combination of interferon and ribavirin for 12-72 weeks was widely used until 2011, but since then a new stage has begun in the treatment of this ailment.
New drugs have appeared – sofosbufir, boceprevir, telaprevir, simeprevir.
However, they, too, were quite toxic, required a triple dose. Therefore, dasabuvir, asunaprevir, daclatasvir, narlaprevir and others came to replace or add to them.
Considering that sometimes a person needs to take several medications at once and this is very inconvenient, they began to produce combined forms, which greatly facilitated the life of patients.
Currently, with a favorable course and a good response to therapy, it is possible to fully recover from hepatitis C in 2-3 months, which 10 years ago seemed just fantastic (people were treated for 8-12 months).
However, this is individual and depends on a variety of parameters – the genotype of the pathogen, the experience of the disease, the state of the body, the presence of liver tissue fibrosis, etc.
Traditional methods against hepatitis C Sometimes, when making such a diagnosis, people get lost, do not want to accept it, and reject the achievements of modern medicine. Some believe that the drugs are so toxic that they themselves threaten health and life, for this reason they refuse to drink them.
There is even a special trend, a dissidence whose adherents deny the hepatitis C virus (and HIV), believe that the drugs are distributed solely for the profit of pharmaceutical companies or for the purpose of conducting experiments on patients. These people are trying to cope with the disease by folk methods, they are trying to use herbs, tinctures, decoctions, bioadditives, homeopathy to improve immunity, they drink hepatoprotectors in bags.
However, the effectiveness of treatment with antiviral drugs directly depends on how quickly it will be started. If the process of fibrosis has developed in the liver, then the probability of a favorable outcome is reduced to almost zero.
Therefore, when making such a diagnosis, it is necessary as soon as possible to seek help from an infectious diseases doctor and begin taking medications. Moreover, it is now possible to fully recover from this ailment and forget about it, like a terrible dream.
Unfortunately, unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no reliable protection in the form of a vaccine against hepatitis C. And the only effective method of prevention is common sense and the instinct of self-preservation: avoiding taking any drugs (not just injecting), protected sex with unreliable partners, carrying out any cosmetic procedures in trustworthy salons.
Do not hesitate to ask the master to show his medical book: a good specialist has nothing to hide. Only your health depends on it.
Periodic monitoring of blood for the content of antibodies to hepatitis C will allow to detect the disease at the earliest possible stage and start treatment promptly.