Skip to content

    Hepatitis Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    How Not to Wreck Your Liver

    By Suz Redfearn
    WebMD Feature

    It's not something you probably think much about, but your liver is a key player in your body's digestive system. Everything you eat or drink, including medicine, passes through it. You need to treat it right so it can stay healthy and do its job.

    "It's an organ you could easily trash if you don't take good care of it," says Rohit Satoskar, MD, of the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute. "And once you trash it, it's gone."

    Recommended Related to Hepatitis

    Fatty Liver Disease

    Some fat in your liver is normal. But if it makes up more than 5%-10% of the organ's weight, you may have fatty liver disease. If you're a drinker, stop. That's one of the key causes of the condition. There are two main types of fatty liver disease: Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) You can also get fatty liver disease during pregnancy.

    Read the Fatty Liver Disease article > >

    Your liver is about the size of a football and sits under your lower ribcage on the right side. It has several important things to do. It helps clean your blood by getting rid of harmful chemicals that your body makes. It makes a liquid called bile, which helps you break down fat from food. And it also stores sugar called glucose, which gives you a quick energy boost when you need it.

    There's nothing tricky about keeping your liver in good shape. It's all about a healthy lifestyle, says Ray Chung, MD, medical director of the liver transplant program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

    "Taking care of your liver is far more about avoiding what's bad than it is about eating or drinking things that are particularly nourishing to the liver," he says.

    Care for Your Liver

    Here are some ways to keep your liver healthy:

    Don't drink a lot of alcohol. It can damage liver cells and lead to the swelling or scarring that becomes cirrhosis, which can be deadly.

    How much alcohol is too much? U.S. government guidelines say men should drink no more than two drinks a day and women only one.

    Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. Your liver will thank you. You'll keep your weight under control, which helps prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that leads to cirrhosis.

    Watch out for certain medicines. Cholesterol drugs and the painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol) can hurt your liver if you take too much.

    You may be taking more acetaminophen than you realize. It's found in hundreds of drugs like cold medicines and prescription pain medicines.

    Today on WebMD

    Hepatitus C virus
    Types, symptoms and treatments.
    liver illustration
    Myths and facts about this essential organ.
     
    woman eating apple
    What you need to know.
    doctor and patient
    What causes it?
     
    Hepatitis C Treatment
    Article
    Syringes and graph illustration
    Tool
     
    liver illustration
    Quiz
    passport, pills and vaccine
    Slideshow
     
    Scientist looking in microscope
    Slideshow
    Fatty Liver Disease
    Article
     
    Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
    Article
    Picture Of The Liver
    Image Collection