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When the liver begins to store fat, you are developing fatty liver disease. People can spend 20 years or more damaging the organ without feeling the effects… then signs of the disease begin to emerge. DrinkAware point out the early warning signs of fatty liver disease – ones that can appear after 20 years of damage. One of the earliest warning signs is experiencing regular bouts of diarrhoea.
This may or may not be accompanied by abdominal pains and feelings of fatigue.
These signs of disease may be overlooked, especially if they’ve become the “norm” for you.
Some people might suffer from feelings of nausea, and vomiting can occur.
In the later stages of fatty liver disease, other noticeable symptoms of the condition come to light.
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For example, the legs, ankles, or abdomen, may swell in response to a fatty liver.
Bruises may suddenly appear more easily, and the skin may feel more itchy than before.
Jaundice could appear, when the whites of the eyes and colouring of the skin take on a yellow tinge.
There may be an increased sensitivity to alcohol, as the liver struggles to process the toxin.
A person with fatty liver disease may lose their appetite, or feel weak, or vomit blood.
Bleeding in the gut can occur, or liver cancer, and when cirrhosis occurs – scarring of the liver – cutting out alcohol completely is “essential”.
By the time cirrhosis occurs, the liver stops working complete and you can die from liver failure.
Those who need a liver transplant will only be considered for the operation if you don’t drink alcohol for “at least three months”.
For those in the earlier stages of fatty liver disease, alcohol abstinence can reverse the condition.
The British Liver Trust identified three causes of liver disease: drinking alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis.
Don’t be thinking the liver isn’t worth worrying about; on the contrary, the organ has over 500 vital jobs to keep you alive.
“When it’s damaged, the liver can repair itself, but only up to a point,” warned the charity.
Hepatitis B and C are “blood-born viruses” that can cause permanent liver damage.
There are vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, but none for hepatitis C or E.
The British Liver Trust recommends the following tips to help avoid catching these viruses:
- Don’t share toothbrushes
- Don’t share razors
- Don’t share nail scissors or tweezers
- Practise safe sex
Use only licensed tattoo and piercing parlours, making sure equipment has been sterilised
You can help to improve the health of your liver by reducing alcohol consumption, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
If you look after your liver, the organ will help look after you in older age.
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