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World Liver Day falls in April, and it’s a good time to step back and understand how the liver processes everything we eat and drink, filters out unwanted substances, and supplies the body with energy. It’s responsible for around 500 essential functions. Simply put, it helps keep the body running. When the liver doesn’t function properly, the body struggles. For people with chronic liver disease, the liver is less able to complete vital functions. This can cause symptoms that impact everyday life. 

Signs to look out for Risk factors and symptoms

The rise in chronic liver disease cases is largely driven by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a problem caused by an accumulation of fat in the liver. ,  Over one-third of Indian adults have fatty liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, according to an AIIMS study. 

There are over 100 kinds of liver diseases, which can develop due to various reasons like viruses, genetic disorders, alcohol, or Hepatitis B Virus. However, trends indicate that alcohol abuse may become the predominant cause of liver disease replacing the Hepatitis B Virus. 

High blood sugar levels can damage the liver as well.  Having type 2 diabetes raises your risk of developing a liver disease.  On the other hand, blood sugar levels can rise when the liver isn’t working properly. 

Weight loss, aches in the right side of the ribs, and feeling weak are signs to watch your liver health. , Other symptoms include excess fluid in the abdomen, not feeling hungry, your skin or eye whites turning yellow, and swelling in your legs or stomach. , 

One of the most common symptoms is fatigue  – a feeling of extreme tiredness and low energy levels. We all get tired, but chronic fatigue is far more than ordinary tiredness. Almost one in ten people suffer from chronic fatigue.  The percentage is much higher for people with liver problems.  People with liver issues feel a lack of energy throughout the day, even if they are getting good sleep. It’s as if the body is unable to recharge.  

The liver helps regulate essential molecules such as serotonin and dopamine. These molecules send signals throughout the body, which affect how we feel. When the liver is not working properly, it disrupts the work of these molecules. This can result in low energy and exhaustion.

Dr.Kaushal Madan, Principal Director & Head of Clinical Hepatology, at Max Hospitals, New Delhi said, “Chronic liver disease can have a significant impact on people’s well-being. Some of the symptoms are visible, like yellowing of the skin or eye whites, also known as jaundice. Other symptoms – such as persistent fatigue and weakness – are less visible, but that doesn’t make them any less debilitating. People with chronic liver disease need to identify their condition and understand the lifestyle changes they can make and any treatment they may need to improve their symptoms.”

Dr. Jejoe Karankumar, Medical Affairs Director, Abbott India commented, “It’s important to detect liver disease early so it can be managed well. This is vital given the rapidly growing number of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease cases. Timely diagnosis can guide treatment and lifestyle decisions, which can help people living with the condition better understand and address symptoms, including fatigue.”

Here are 7simple actions to promote your liver health and energize your body:

1. Eat nutritious, well-rounded meals. Exclude foods with unhealthy fat, including processed foods, which can prevent additional fat build-up in your liver.

2. Reduce salt and sugar, as too much of these can damage your liver.

3. Drink enough water.

4. Consuming coffee can also reduce the risk of some types of liver disease. ,  However, as there is no clear evidence that the right amount of coffee is good for your liver, it should be consumed in moderation or after consultation with the doctor. 

5. Maintain a healthy weight. 

6. Avoid alcohol consumption, especially if you already have a form of liver disease. , 

7. Try pacing and prioritizing essential tasks – this can help you allocate energy better throughout the day without becoming overwhelmed.

With regular checks, a doctor can detect early signs of liver health-related problems and advise on treatment accordingly.  There are many ways in which your doctor can help you address fatigue, like advising you on how to improve your sleep environment to maximize your energy levels.

By taking steps to improve the liver’s performance, you can regain the energy to live your best life.

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