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How to look after your liver

Looking after your liver simply means living a healthy lifestyle.

Minimise alcohol intake. It can damage liver cells and lead to swelling or scarring, which can in turn lead to cirrhosis. Guidelines say men should drink no more than two drinks a day and women only one. Having two alcohol-free days a week is recommended.

Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. This will help you keep your weight under control, which helps prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that can also lead to cirrhosis. Some medicines can hurt your liver if you drink alcohol when you take them. And some are harmful when combined with other drugs. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the safest way to take your medicines.

Viral hepatitis and your liver

The various types of viral hepatitis are serious diseases that can harm your liver and there are several types. You can catch hepatitis A from contaminated food or water. Vaccinations are recommended if you’re traveling to a part of the world where there are outbreaks.

Hepatitis B is spread through blood and other bodily fluids. Avoid sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors, or needles. You could be affected by hepatitis B if you:

•    are of Māori, Pacific Island or east Asian ethnicity
•    have a mother or close family member with hepatitis B
•    live with someone with the virus.
•    Have had an unsterile tattoo
•    Have ever injected drugs

There is no cure for hepatitis B, but the virus can be successfully managed with regular monitoring. Effective medicines are available to control the virus if problems are detected in the liver. Testing is very important, as the virus can often damage the liver before symptoms appear. If you think you could be at risk and would like a hepatitis test, please talk to your health care provider. 

Hepatitis C is also spread through blood and other bodily fluids. It can be cured.


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