Here are just a few things you should avoid to maintain your liver’s health:
Avoid excessive alcohol. Most people know that the liver acts as a filter and can be badly damaged by drinking too much alcohol. Liver specialists recommend that more than two drinks a day for men – and more than one drink a day for women – may even be too much for some people.
One of the most remarkable accomplishments of this miraculous organ is its ability to regenerate. (Three quarters of the liver can be removed and it will grow back in the same shape and form within a few weeks!) However, overworking your liver by heavy alcohol consumption can cause liver cells (the “employees” in the power plant) to die forming scar tissue called cirrhosis. This occurs over several years until there are too few liver cells to keep hundreds of body functions working.
Avoid drugs and medicines taken with alcohol. Medicines – especially the seemingly harmless acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol and other over-the-counter medications) – should never be taken more than recommended or with alcoholic beverages. Many prescribed and over-the-counter drugs and medicines (including herbal medications) are made up of chemicals that could be potentially hazardous to your precious liver cells, especially when taken with alcohol.
If you take medications for any illness or metabolic disorder, liver damage may result from the medications you take. In such cases, be sure your physician knows what medications you are taking and periodically tests for potential liver damage.
Avoid environmental pollutants. Chemical fumes from paint thinners, bug sprays, and other aerosol sprays are picked up by the tiny blood vessels in your lungs and carried to your liver where they are detoxified and discharged in your bile. Avoid breathing in the fumes to prevent liver damage. Make certain you have good ventilation, use a mask, cover your skin, and wash off any chemicals you get on your skin with soap and water as soon as possible.
Practice safer sex (use latex condoms). If you have hepatitis, or if you have more than one sex partner within a six- month period, you should consider vaccination for hepatitis B. Unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed to HBV infected persons through unprotected sex or contact with infected blood or body fluids should receive an intra-muscular injection of hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) within l4 days of exposure and the hepatitis B vaccine.
Don’t share! If you are a user of injected drugs, never share drug needles, cocaine straws, or any drug paraphernalia. No one should share anything that could have an infected person’s blood on it (e.g., toothbrush, razor, nail clipper, body piercing instruments, etc.).
Handle blood spills correctly. If there is blood spill, even a small one, clean it up with a 10% solution of household bleach (believed to kill the virus) and wear protective gloves.