Updated: Jul 29
According to the WHO website: "World Hepatitis Day is observed each year on the 28th of July to raise awareness of viral hepatitis - an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease and hepatocellular cancer." Every year approximately 1.4 million people are dying from viral hepatitis, "with a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis." Let's take care of our liver by discussing the different causes of inflammation of our liver, brief look at Western medicine way of managing the diseases and providing some Chinese medicine perspectives in this blog post.
Causes of inflammation of the Liver
1. Hepatitis Viruses This includes type A、B、C、D & E hepatitis viruses. Type B, C, D hepatitis are transmitted via blood , they may stick around and become a chronic condition, and the main culprit for liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. We now have vaccines for Type A, B and D.
2. Non alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
When you have abnormally high figures for your Liver function tests (i.e. ALT and AST) , your GP may send you for an ultrasound to see whether you have a fatty liver. If you have fatty liver disease, you need to change your lifestyle and see a Chinese practitioner in order to prevent liver cirrhosis / cancer.
3. Alcohol related liver Disease
Drinking large amount of alcohol, even just for a few days, may lead to a built-up of fat in our liver. When alcohol enters our liver, it has to filters alcohol into water and carbon dioxide, the process is damaging and killing some liver cells, making it extra hard to metabolise fat. Binge drinking or prolonged misuse of alcohol over the years can reduce the liver's ability to regenerate new cells, this can result permanent damage to the liver, for example alcoholic hepatitis and later on fibrosis and even liver cirrhosis (scarred liver). Mild alcoholic hepatitis is reversible when patients decide to stop drinking permanently. Severe alcoholic hepatitis is life threatening. We can help you to control your drinking behaviour using a combination of auricular acupuncture and herbal medicine. Please also seek help from your GP as they can refer you to services such as Windana Drug & Alcohol Recovery Centre or you can also be proactive by contacting Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Australia.
Alcohol related liver diseases often don't show symptoms until the liver is severely damaged. Symptoms can be ranging from: loss of appetite, jaundice, swelling in the tummy, passing blood in the stools etc.
4. Drug induced Liver injury/diseases