Alcohol addiction affects around nine per cent of men and three per cent of women in the UK, according to the NHS. Because alcohol is a legal substance, many people underestimate the dangers of abusing it. And a large number of individuals regularly drink more than the government’s recommended weekly limit of fourteen units. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to a physical dependence as well as numerous health problems.
Even those who have not developed an alcohol addiction could be damaging their health by regularly drinking more than they should. Alcohol is a dangerous substance that affects almost every part of the body. It can lead to a host of health problems and has been known to damage the brain, heart, nervous system, and liver.
Most are aware that liver disease is something that affects those with severe alcohol addictions. However, it would probably surprise many to hear that as many as two million people in the UK are affected by this illness. What is even more surprising is the fact there are one hundred different kinds of liver disease.
The British Liver Trust will try to raise awareness of this illness from June 20th to June 26th (Love Your Liver Week) 2016 in the hope that more people can be educated on preventing liver disease as well as learning how to manage this condition should they be affected by it.
According to the charity, one in five individuals in the United Kingdom have early stage liver disease but are completely oblivious to this fact.
The liver is the second largest organ in the body and is responsible for a number of functions. It works to remove toxic substances from the body, such as alcohol, and it also assists in the blood clotting function. The liver is also responsible for controlling levels of cholesterol and for fighting illness and infection. It also aids digestion by releasing bile into the body. Bile is a substance that helps to break down fats.
Unfortunately, most people are unaware they have liver disease until it is at a relatively advanced stage. At this point, the individual will most likely have suffered liver damage. Advanced liver disease symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice). Liver disease sufferers may also notice their urine being quite dark in colour, and they may also have pale coloured stools.
Alcohol abuse most often causes liver disease, but hepatitis infections and obesity can also cause it.
The Love Your Liver Week campaign is encouraging people to drink coffee as the British Liver Trust believes that coffee can be beneficial for the liver. It is calling for more research to be carried out into the benefits of a daily coffee on the liver.
The British Liver Trust chief executive Andrew Langford said, “Although the liver is remarkably resilient and can regenerate if given time to recover, by the time most people have signs and symptoms of liver damage, it is often irreversible.”
He added that liver disease is often referred to as a ‘silent killer’ because of the fact that it does not have many symptoms. He went on to say that the majority of those diagnosed with the disease are already at end stage, at which time it is too late for effective treatment. Langford is urging people to check whether they are at risk for liver disease by using the ‘Love Your Liver Health Screener’ on the British Liver Trust website. Those who are at risk are encouraged to speak to their GP for a blood test.
The British Liver Trust is also offering advice to help individuals take care of their liver and avoid liver disease. They are attributing obesity to the growing number of those who are developing non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease. With obesity becoming more of a problem in the UK, more are developing this condition. The trust advises people to keep an eye on their weight and try to stick to a healthy diet.
They are also advising people to reduce their alcohol consumption. So many individuals in this country are unaware of the dangers that excessive drinking can cause to their mental and physical health. In line with the government’s alcohol guidelines, the British Liver Trust recommends that individuals have at least two to three alcohol-free days every week. They also recommend drinking no more than fourteen units per week, spread out over a number of days.
Although alcohol addiction is a leading cause of liver disease, some infections can damage the liver, including hepatitis. Hepatitis A, B and C are blood-borne viruses that can lead to liver disease and permanent damage. They are also linked to a higher risk of liver cancer. Avoiding the risks for hepatitis will protect the liver from damage. This means you should never share items such as toothbrushes, nail scissors, razors and tweezers with someone who could have viral hepatitis. You should make sure you practice safe sex and never get a tattoo in an unlicensed premises. It is also vital that you never share needles or other drug equipment.
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