Care of the liver during COVID-19- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Liver disease is a serious concern in India with more than 10 lakh cases being reported every year. Daily diagnosis often results in the diagnosis of the condition when it is at its final stage or liver cirrhosis has occurred, during which time it is difficult to treat and often leads to death. The World Health Organization has identified liver disease as the tenth most common cause of death in India with liver cancer being the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths.

A pandemic-like situation can be dangerous for people with liver disease as they are at increased risk of suffering from serious virus complications such as Covid-19. The earlier SARS epidemic is a point case where liver damage was observed in more than half of afflicted patients. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a significant percentage of patients were found to develop liver dysfunction, especially those suffering from severe Covid-19.

Although more research and observation are needed to fully understand the link, possible reasons for this could be the effect of the virus on the liver, an undesirable body immune response affecting the liver, sepsis, or injury to the liver medication-related liver. During the second wave of the pandemic, more people are reporting GI symptoms that indicate the virus’s potential to infiltrate and attack organs in the body other than the lungs. Needless to say, patients with liver conditions need to take extra care of their body and health during this time. People who engage in certain lifestyle habits that contribute to liver damage but have not seen any external symptoms of liver disease may also find that contracting the corona virus leads to more of symptoms associated with the liver.

Individuals with pre-existing liver disease appear to be at significant risk for complications from the COVID-19 infection. Various studies are underway to find out the exact effect of this virus infection on such patients. The following are some simple ways to care for your liver, which are particularly relevant to the current pandemic situation

Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
With more time at hand people are resorting to unhealthy habits such as regular drinking / binge drinking which is a major cause of liver damage. Too much alcohol puts the system on too fast to process the toxins in the system, which the liver takes the most. Smoking is just as bad for the liver and heavy drinkers often tend to smoke. Use this time to relieve these addictions.

Eat a liver-friendly diet
The function of the liver is to detoxify. Eating fruits and vegetables that help keep the liver healthy and work effectively is important to prevent liver damage. Some examples are rich antioxidant fruits like berries, green tea, healthy fats like olive oil, fatty fish, avocado, bananas, nuts, and green leafy vegetables like spinach, fibrous foods like whole grains, garlic, etc. are beneficial to the Thursday. High processed, high sodium, loaded with artificial sugars like most ready-to-eat food items, fried food, and excess maida prepared items unsuitable for liver health.

Don’t forget to exercise
With more time at hand, set aside time to exercise. The general perception is that exercise is good for the heart but it is increasingly appreciated by medical studies that exercise is most essential for liver health. Regular exercise that increases the heart rate to 80 percent of the target heart rate [which is age dependent; Target heart rate = 80% (220 – age)] at least 4 times a week helps keep the liver healthy. If you have any particular illness, discuss this exercise routine with your doctor before taking it.

Obesity is one of the leading causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. If you are overweight, use this time to reduce and maintain a healthy weight for your body type. If you are at a healthy weight, try to avoid resorting to healthy foods to deal with boredom, stress etc and continue to exercise a healthy diet and lifestyle. Genetics can also play a role if liver disease runs in the family; use this time for liver function tests.
Even apparently thin people can accumulate fat around the liver, leading to fatty liver disease as shown by various studies in India. We are on the verge of a fatty liver disease epidemic and the current pandemic can easily aggravate this.

Practice safe behaviors and be responsible
Unhealthy needles and unprotected sex can lead to Hepatitis B and C, which are part of a group of viruses that can attack the liver. Unhealthy tattoo parlors, drug injections, basically any needles that have come into contact when an infected person bleeds and is reintroduced to a healthy person can lead to liver disease. Taking a vaccine can help reduce the risk of catching the disease.

Wearing a mask and maintaining social distance is still the most effective way not to catch the disease. Given the longevity of this pandemic, its economic consequences and the social isolation it demands, a nonhilistic approach to society (including administrators and regulators) as a whole has developed fatigue and thrown away these simple measures out the window. This aspect is partly responsible for the current surge in infections. Being responsible to yourself and to one another is key. So if it is symptomatic, test yourself and isolate. Lead Consultant – HPB & Liver Transplant Surgery, Aster Hospital RV