World Liver Day 2018
Liver is the largest solid organ of the body. It is a big chemical factory of the body and does more than 500 different important functions.
Liver diseases including Liver cancer have become one of the major concerns of the world and in particular India. This is largely due to excess alcohol consumption, Hepatitis B and C and more rapidly rising fatty Liver related diseases.
Nearly one in five Indians suffer with Liver problems and nearly 2.5 lakh people die every year due to liver failure and liver cancer. In fact the global health loss because of Liver diseases is underappreciated and the worrying part is all these diseases are self-made because of our wrong habits and are largely preventable.
According to WHO, about 46% of global diseases and 59% of the mortality is because of chronic diseases and almost 35 million people in the world die of chronic diseases. According to National statistics in the UK, liver diseases have been ranked as the fifth most common cause of death. Liver diseases are recognized as the second leading cause of mortality amongst all digestive diseases in the US.
Hepatitis B and C are the viruses, which damage the Liver and cause Liver failure and the cancer. In fact the most common reason for Liver transplants currently is Hepatitis C. These viruses are transmitted through blood transfusions, infected needle sharing, tattooing, dialysis machines etc. Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through body fluid contact including sexual transmission. In India nearly 45 million people are infected with Hepatitis B and nearly 15 million people with Hepatitis C.
The other major worrying part of the Liver diseases is that it is a silent killer. Until at least 80% of your Liver is damaged, there are no symptoms, in fact by the time majority of the patients with Liver disease presents to hospital it is too late. The most common symptoms are jaundice (yellow eyes and urine), excessive tiredness, drowsiness, blood vomitus, dull tummy pain etc.
The best way of controlling the Liver disease is by having regular check ups (remember Liver is a silent killer) with simple blood tests and sometimes a simple scan; preventing transmission of the viruses (with safe practices), reducing alcohol consumption and also controlling fatty liver. There are excellent treatments available for the viruses and this includes only consuming tablets for 12 weeks on majority of the times. If patients do end up having Liver failure or cancer then the Liver transplants are a very valid option and a life saving procedure.
Through out the world there are more than 80,000 Liver transplants been performed with excellent results. Even in India the results have been excellent and at much better affordable rates. But due to lack of awareness of the Liver transplant, only 200 transplants are being done in India in a year whilst around there is a requirement of at least 20,000 a year.
MBBS, MRCP(Edin), MRCP (London), FRCP(Gastro), CCST(Gastro)
Consultant Medical Gastroenterology & Transplant Hepatology, Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills Hyderabad