Chennai: Common liver diseases in Tamil Nadu are alcoholic liver diseases, chronic viral hepatitis due to Hepatitis B and C virus and fatty liver.
Though liver diseases can be completely cured at an early stage and their progression can be stopped, lack of awareness on early initiation of treatment raises the burden of liver diseases in the state.
Medicos emphasize on diagnosis, treatment and consequences of common most liver diseases in the state on account of World Liver Day. “Liver disease can affect any age, but fatty liver is common in the elderly age group and alcohol liver disease is common in the young and middle-aged adults. There are no signs or symptoms until the liver gets damaged, and the possible symptoms at a later stage are the loss of appetite and weight loss. Some can even be affected with jaundice,” says Dr N Mohan, senior gastroenterologist, Meenakshi Mission Hospital.
Senior gastroenterologist Dr P.L. Alagammi adds that alcohol appears to be the commonest threat to liver’s wellbeing. Patients with liver disease usually come to medical attention only during advanced stage of the disease. This is because symptoms become overt only in such advanced stage. Though liver complications are caused mainly due to unhealthy lifestyle and can be inherited or genetic, high intake of alcoholic drinks, high cholesterol foods is the major causes of liver diseases.
“Alcohol can damage liver cells and lead to the swelling or scarring that becomes cirrhosis, which can be deadly. Enough hydration coupled with a balanced diet would keep weight under control and helps prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that leads to cirrhosis. Smoking can also enhance the toxic effects that some medications (such as Paracetamol) have on the liver, so it is should be avoided,” says Dr Joy Varghese, senior consultant, transplant hepatology, Apollo Hospitals.
Hepatitis B and C also form a large section of liver diseases. An individual can catch hepatitis A from eating or drinking water that’s got the virus that causes the disease. Hepatitis B and C are spread through blood and body fluids, added Dr Joy Varghese.
Vaccination can prevent hepatitis B in 90 per cent of the cases and the combination hepatitis A and B vaccine provides immunity for at least 10 years and likely for a lifetime when completing the full series.
Doctors say that awareness about modes of spread of Hepatitis B and C virus (sex, blood transfusion, use of infected needles in drug users and mother to child during pregnancy), vaccination for Hepatitis B, active surveillance in susceptible population and early initiation of treatment could probably eliminate the viral hepatitis-related liver diseases.