Saturday, October 20, 2012

Liver Awareness Month

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By Nurse Diane

When my brother first got his driver's license, he started working for my aunt delivering flowers.  While out on deliveries, he discovered a small roadside restaurant that fried the best chicken livers, and he would occasionally stop and bring some home for the rest of us.  That was the only liver I would eat.  This month is liver awareness month, but not to be aware of the liver we eat, but the one that is inside you.

The liver is a large, meaty organ that sits on the right side of the belly. Weighing about 3 pounds, the liver is reddish-brown in color and feels rubbery to the touch. Normally you can't feel the liver, because it's protected by the rib cage.  The liver has two large sections, called the right and the left lobes. The gallbladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines. The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.

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The liver's main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. The liver also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions.

There are several conditions that can affect the function of the liver.  These include:
  • Cancer
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Ascites
  • Liver Failure
  • Gallstones

Some ways to take care of your liver include:
  • 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); and
  • Never mix alcohol with other drugs & medicines.

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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.

I would always check my husband’s medications to see how they affected his liver, and he also had periodic blood tests, especially if I noticed his eyes turning yellowish.
To determine if you are having any trouble with your liver, check for these 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; and
  • Chronic fatigue, nausea or loss of appetite.

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If you have any of these problems, make an appointment with your doctor, and monitor your food intake, the alcohol intake, and be careful of any aerosol or other fumes that you may be around.  You liver is a very vital organ to the function of your body, so please take care of it, and it will take care of you

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