I recently attended the Africa Health Tech Summit, also known as #AHTS23, which took place from 17th of October 2023 to 19th October 2023. The summit was all about acknowledging and celebrating digital health innovations, exploring new and exciting ways to use technology to improve healthcare in Africa.
The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in the human body. It plays a vital role in a wide range of bodily functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and digestion. The importance of liver health cannot be overstated, as the liver is responsible for removing toxins and waste products from the body, maintaining hormonal balance, and regulating blood sugar levels.
The liver is constantly working to detoxify the body, breaking down harmful substances and filtering out waste products. It also produces bile, which helps to digest fats and absorb essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, the liver stores glucose for energy and produces proteins that are necessary for blood clotting and immune function.
However, the liver can become damaged over time due to a variety of factors, including alcohol abuse, viral infections, and obesity. When the liver is not functioning properly, it can lead to serious health problems, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver cancer.
The liver is located in the upper-right quadrant of the abdomen, just below the diaphragm. It is a wedge-shaped organ that is roughly the size of a football and weighs about 3 pounds. The liver receives blood from two sources: the hepatic artery, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart, and the portal vein, which carries nutrient-rich blood from the intestines.
The liver has many functions, including:
Hepatitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the liver. There are several types of hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, and C, which are caused by viruses, as well as alcoholic hepatitis, which is caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Viral hepatitis refers to any type of hepatitis that is caused by a virus. This includes hepatitis A, B, and C.
There are several types of hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, and C, which are caused by viruses. Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection that is transmitted through contaminated food or water. It can cause acute liver disease but does not typically lead to chronic infection. Symptoms of hepatitis A may include fatigue, nausea, and jaundice. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that is transmitted through contact with infected blood or body fluids. It can cause both acute and chronic liver disease, and can lead to liver failure or liver cancer if left untreated. Symptoms of hepatitis B include fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and jaundice. There is no cure for hepatitis B, but it can be prevented through vaccination.
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus, which is highly contagious and can be spread through sexual contact, sharing needles or other injection equipment, or from mother to baby during childbirth.
Hepatitis B is highly contagious and can be spread through contact with infected blood or body fluids. It is important to practice safe sex and avoid sharing needles or other injection equipment to prevent the spread of the virus.
The hepatitis B vaccine is highly effective at preventing infection. It is recommended for all infants, as well as adults who are at risk of infection, such as healthcare workers, people with multiple sexual partners, and people who inject drugs.
The symptoms of hepatitis B are similar in both men and women and may include fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and jaundice.
There have been several new treatments developed for hepatitis B in recent years, including medications that can more effectively suppress the virus and reduce liver damage. However, there is still no cure for hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that is transmitted through contact with infected blood. It can cause both acute and chronic liver disease and can lead to liver failure or liver cancer if left untreated.
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus, which is transmitted through contact with infected blood. It is most commonly spread through the sharing of needles or other injection equipment.
The symptoms of hepatitis C can vary, but may include fatigue, abdominal pain, and jaundice. In many cases, there may be no symptoms at all.
There are several antiviral medications available to treat hepatitis C, which can cure the infection in some cases. Treatment may also include medications to manage symptoms and support liver health.
The treatment for hepatitis depends on the underlying cause and severity of the disease. Treatment may include medications to reduce inflammation and improve liver function, as well as lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol and maintaining a healthy diet. In some cases, antiviral medications may be used to treat viral hepatitis.
Cirrhosis of the Liver is a chronic liver disease characterized by scarring and damage to the liver. The liver is responsible for filtering blood and removing toxins from the body, and when it becomes scarred and damaged, it can no longer perform its essential functions properly. This can lead to a range of symptoms and complications, including liver failure.
There are various causes of cirrhosis, including alcohol abuse, chronic hepatitis, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Symptoms of liver cirrhosis can be mild or severe, and they may include fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, swelling in the legs and abdomen, and loss of appetite.
The severity of cirrhosis can be determined by the stage of the disease, which is assessed through blood tests, imaging tests such as ultrasound, and a liver biopsy. There are different types of liver cirrhosis, including primary biliary cirrhosis, which is an autoimmune disease that affects the bile ducts in the liver.
Treating cirrhosis depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the disease. In some cases, the damage caused by cirrhosis cannot be reversed, but treatment can help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. This may include lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, medications to manage symptoms, and in severe cases, a liver transplant.
Fatty Liver Disease, also known as hepatic steatosis, is a medical condition where excess fat accumulates in the liver. This condition is not always harmful, but in some cases, it can lead to inflammation and liver damage.
Fatty liver disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including obesity, insulin resistance, high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, metabolic disorders, and excessive alcohol consumption. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a type of fatty liver disease that is not related to alcohol consumption.
Some common symptoms of fatty liver disease include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, abdominal pain, and swelling of the liver. However, many people with fatty liver disease may not experience any symptoms.
There are various treatment options available for fatty liver disease, including lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to manage underlying conditions that contribute to the development of fatty liver disease.
Currently, there is no single best medication for fatty liver disease, but some commonly prescribed drugs include insulin-sensitizing agents, lipid-lowering agents, and antioxidants. It is important to note that there is no known cure for fatty liver disease, but it can be managed with appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes.
New treatment options for fatty liver disease are constantly being researched and developed. For example, some studies have shown that certain dietary supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, may be helpful in reducing liver fat and inflammation.
It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect that you may have fatty liver disease, as it can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Steatohepatitis is a more severe form of fatty liver disease that can cause liver scarring and liver failure. Fatty liver disease is a dangerous condition, but with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, it can be managed effectively.
Liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or primary liver cell carcinoma, is a type of cancer that begins in the liver cells. It is the most common type of liver cancer and accounts for more than 80% of all cases.
The risk factors for liver cancer include chronic viral hepatitis (B and C), heavy alcohol use, obesity, diabetes, and exposure to certain chemicals. People who have cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver often caused by chronic liver disease, are also at increased risk of developing liver cancer.
Symptoms of liver cancer may include abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). However, many people with liver cancer may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of the disease.
Treatment options for liver cancer depend on the stage of the disease and the overall health of the patient. Surgery to remove the liver tumor is often the first-line treatment for early-stage liver cancer. Other treatment options include ablation therapy (using heat or cold to destroy cancer cells), embolization (blocking the blood supply to the tumor), and radiation therapy.
Doctors may use hepatocellular carcinoma ultrasound to help diagnose liver cancer and determine the stage of the disease. Other imaging tests, such as CT scans and MRI scans, may also be used to evaluate the liver and surrounding organs.
The effects of liver cancer can be serious and can include liver failure, fluid buildup in the abdomen, and spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. However, with early detection and appropriate treatment, the prognosis for liver cancer can be improved.
There are several other liver diseases that can affect the liver and its function. Some of these include Wilson's disease, liver fluke, and biliary atresia. Additionally, milk thistle, specifically its active ingredient silymarin, has been studied for its potential benefits for liver health.
Wilson's disease is a rare genetic disorder that causes the body to accumulate too much copper in the liver, brain, and other organs. Symptoms of Wilson's disease can include liver failure, neurological problems, and psychiatric symptoms. Treatment typically involves medications to reduce copper levels in the body and prevent further damage.
Liver fluke is a parasitic infection caused by a type of flatworm that can infect the liver and bile ducts. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, jaundice, and fever. Treatment typically involves medication to kill the parasite.
Milk thistle is an herbal supplement that has been studied for its potential benefits for liver health. Its active ingredient, silymarin, has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help protect the liver from damage. Silymarin tablets are available on our eshop, but their effectiveness for treating liver disease is not yet fully established. Click here to shop now.
Biliary atresia is a rare condition in which the bile ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder become blocked or damaged. Symptoms can include jaundice, dark urine, and pale stools. Treatment typically involves surgery to repair or replace the bile ducts.
Enlarged liver, or hepatomegaly, can have a variety of causes, including fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and liver cancer. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, fatigue, and nausea.
Gilbert's syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the liver's ability to process bilirubin, a waste product from the breakdown of red blood cells. Symptoms can include jaundice and fatigue, but the condition typically does not require treatment.
Signs of liver failure can include jaundice, abdominal swelling, confusion, and coma. Symptoms of liver cancer can include abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and loss of appetite.
Cholestasis is a condition in which the flow of bile from the liver is impaired. Symptoms can include itching, fatigue, and jaundice. Treatment typically involves medication to improve bile flow.
Ascites, or fluid buildup in the abdomen, can have a variety of causes, including liver disease, heart failure, and cancer. Treatment typically involves managing the underlying condition and draining the excess fluid if necessary.
The hepatic portal vein is a blood vessel that carries blood from the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and spleen to the liver. It plays a critical role in the liver's function and can be affected by liver disease.
When the liver is damaged or not functioning properly, it can lead to a range of symptoms and health problems. Here are some signs and symptoms of liver problems:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider. They may recommend a liver function test, which can measure levels of enzymes and other substances in the blood that indicate how well the liver is functioning. Some common liver function tests include gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) and total bilirubin.
Silymarin, an active ingredient in milk thistle, has been studied for its potential benefits for liver health. However, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand its effects on liver function.
It is important to recognize the first signs of liver disease in order to receive prompt medical attention and prevent further damage to the liver. Some of the early signs of liver damage may include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and nausea. Other symptoms, such as jaundice and abdominal swelling, may not appear until the liver damage has progressed.
If you suspect that you may have a liver problem, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Maintaining good liver health is crucial for overall health and well-being. Here are some tips for promoting liver health:
Some specific foods that are good for liver health include:
If you have hepatitis, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about what foods are best for your specific condition.
Maintaining good liver health is crucial for overall well-being. By making healthy lifestyle choices and consuming nutritious foods, one can reduce the risk of liver disease and promote liver health. However, it's important to note that regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are also necessary to detect any potential liver problems early on.
At Pharmarun, we understand the importance of personalised healthcare and offer free consultations with healthcare providers from the comfort of your home. We also provide personalised healthcare services to help individuals manage chronic conditions and ensure routine checks are done. Our online booking system allows individuals to schedule tests and get them done in a convenient manner.
Taking supplements can also help promote liver health. We have a wide range of supplements and multivitamins here.
For caregivers, our recurring medication scheduling service allows them to schedule their patient's recurring medications and have them delivered regularly. With our commitment to personalised healthcare and convenient services, we aim to make managing one's health easier and more accessible for everyone.
We have simplified the parts of pharmacy that are complicated, cumbersome, and time-consuming. We believe in a pharmacy that is accessible to everyone and works for everyone.