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10 Things You Should Know About Your Liver

  • man holding football
    1. Your liver is about the size of a football–the largest solid organ in the body.
    Not only is it big, but did you know that your liver performs over 500 functions, 24 hours a day? Keeping your liver strong, and as healthy as possible, is vital to your very well-being, especially for those with hepatitis C.

  • Liver Transplant
    2. Your liver stores vitamins and minerals.
    In addition to storing certain vitamins, minerals (including iron) and sugars, your liver regulates fat, and stores and controls the production and excretion of cholesterol. The bile, produced by liver cells, helps you digest your food and absorb important nutrients. It then converts those nutrients into muscles, energy, hormones, and immune factors to protect you from getting sick.

  • Alcohol Intake
    3. Your liver filters out the poison you put in your body.
    One of your liver’s most important jobs is to rid your body of toxic substances. It refines and detoxifies everything you eat, breathe and absorb through your skin. This helps you resist infection and removes bacteria from the blood stream, helping you stay healthy. It also helps metabolize alcohol in small amounts.

  • Liver Damage
    4. Your liver can regenerate.
    In fact, if you removed three quarters of your liver, it would grow back in the same shape and form within a few weeks. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your liver or overwork it. The use of alcohol and drugs, environmental pollutants, viruses, and some metabolic disorders can all cause damage to your liver cells.

  • Pain Medication
    5. Hepatitis C inflames your liver.
    Hepatitis C causes inflammation or swelling of the liver. Sometimes it can get better on its own, but sometimes medicines are needed to stop the inflammation. If you have hepatitis C, it’s even more important that you avoid things that might irritate your liver even more.

  • Alcohol
    6. Drug and alcohol abuse can wreak havoc on your liver, and your body.
    Abusing drugs and alcohol can cause your liver cells to become permanently damaged or scarred (cirrhosis), which can affect your liver’s ability to function, and in turn, affects many other functions of the body. It can also lead to liver disease. Liver specialists say that two drinks for men and one drink for women per day (the recommendation for most people) is even too much for some people with hepatitis C. The good news is that the livers of even heavy drinkers can improve if they stop drinking altogether.

  • knee injury
    7. Without the liver, your blood wouldn’t clot.
    The liver produces proteins, including blood-clotting factors, which help you heal after an injury. People with serious liver disease, such as cirrhosis, are prone to developing blood clots in their portal vein (the large vein that leads to the liver). When the vein is blocked, it can cause a buildup of pressure, or portal hypertension, which may force blood to find an alternate vein. If the vein is too small, it can burst, causing serious internal bleeding.

  • Choose Wisely
    8. Familiar over-the-counter remedies may harm your liver.
    Acetaminophen (found in Tylenol or other cold and headache medicines) may be damaging to your liver, especially if taken while drinking alcohol. Talk to your doctor before taking any medicines, including over-the counter or alternative treatments. All drugs are made up of chemicals and may be hazardous to your liver cells.

  • spray can
    9. Certain hazardous chemicals can get to your liver.
    Paint thinners, bug sprays, and other chemicals found in aerosol sprays can also reach your liver through tiny blood vessels in your lungs and cause potential damage. It’s best to avoid these chemicals, but if you do use them, make sure you have good ventilation. Also, wear a mask, cover your skin, and immediately wash off any chemicals that get onto your skin.

  • Smiling Black man
    10. Your liver won’t tell you it’s hurt, until the damage is already done.
    That’s why it’s often referred to as your “silent partner.” And why it’s so important to do your part in keeping your liver as healthy as possible. Exercising, eating healthy, getting plenty of fresh air, and avoiding alcohol and drugs are all things you can do to help. And be sure to get regular check-ups with your doctor so he or she can monitor the condition of your liver.

10 Things You Should Know About Your Liver

About The Author

Susan Fishman is a veteran freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in consumer and patient education. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post and The Huffington Post, and on numerous other national health, wellness and parenting sites. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation counseling at Georgia State University.

  1. Caring For Your Liver. Hepatitis Foundation International Fact Sheet. http://66.147.244.111/~hepatit1/FactSheets/2012-Caring_for_Liver.pdf

  2. Cirrhosis. Hepatitis Foundation International Fact Sheet. http://66.147.244.111/~hepatit1/FactSheets/2012-Cirrhosis.pdf

  3. Liver Basics: Entire Lesson. Department of Veterans Afffairs. http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/patient/basics/liver-single-page.asp

  4. Your Liver is Your Life. Hepatitis Foundation International. http://www.hepfi.org/LIVER/L-overview.html

  5. Blood Thinner Reduces Liver Vein Blood Clots, Protects Liver Functioning in People with Cirrhosis. Hep Magazine. http://www.hepmag.com/articles/enoxaparin_thrombosis_cirrhosis_2501_21492.shtml

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Last Review Date: 2019 Apr 26
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