Liver health and me
Healthy Living Guide Brochure
Healthy Living Guide Poster
What is liver health and why is it important to me?
Your liver has around 500 different jobs that keep your body working at its best!
Important jobs that your liver does:
– cleans your blood
– helps with digestions
– filters and processes the good stuff that your body can use (such as converting carbohydrates into glucose, making proteins, vitamins, and minerals)
– filters the bad things that are harmful (such as alcohol and toxins)
– assists in hormone production
Healthy lifestyle choices such as eating well, getting active and exercising, feeling well with your mental health, and being aware of what you are drinking is important for a healthy liver.
What is liver disease and how does it affect me?
There are many kinds of diseases and they can affect anyone. Liver disease can cause the liver to become inflamed and scarred. Heavy scarring (or cirrhosis) can cause liver failure and liver cancer.
Drinking too much alcohol, being overweight/obese, having unprotected sex with a person living with hepatitis B, sharing drug injecting equipment or getting tattoos from unsterile (or unclean) tattooing equipment and procedures are common ways of increasing the risk of your liver becoming inflamed and developing liver disease.
How much alcohol is too much? (Alcohol-Related Liver Disease)
Drinking too much alcohol regularly can result in Alcohol-Related Liver Disease. There are no safe levels of drinking – avoiding alcohol is best for your liver.
If you do drink, healthy adults should drink no more than two standard drinks per day to reduce/lessen the risk of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease and alcohol-related injury.
Persons under 18 years of age and women who are pregnant should not drink any alcohol.
People who have liver disease are advised to avoid drinking.
What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
It is normal to have some fat in your liver. If fat in the liver is more than 10% of the liver’s weight, it is called fatty liver disease.
Did you know 1 in 3 Australians adults have a fatty liver?
A more complex and dangerous form of fatty liver disease is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis – this can lead to heavy scarring or cirrhosis.
Even though non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is common for people who are overweight/obese, or living with type 2 diabetes, anyone no matter what age, shape or size can get fatty liver disease.
A healthy lifestyle can help manage the condition.
What is hepatitis B and C and how does it affect your liver
Hepatitis B and C are viruses that can damage the liver and cause liver disease which can develop into liver cancer. A person living with hepatitis B or C may transmit the virus to a person who does not have the virus. It is important to fight against stigma and discrimination by informing others about the true facts, services and support for hepatitis B and C.
Hepatitis B can be transmitted through exchange of blood and sexual fluids (sperm and vaginal fluids) during unprotected sex while Hepatitis C is only transmitted through blood entering the blood stream of another person (blood to blood contact). You cannot get hepatitis B or C through hugging, touching, or kissing, sharing food and drink, or coughing or sneezing.
Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through blood-to-blood contact such as:
– sharing injecting drug equipment and drug snorting items
– unsterile tattooing and piercing, (such as home based or prison based), and tattoos and piercings done overseas if done in unsterile conditions
– fighting where both people bleed and their blood is mixed
– needlestick injuries, medical and dental procedures particularly overseas if done in unsterile conditions. In Australia Hepatitis B and C was transmitted through some blood transfusions prior to 1990. In Australia the blood supply is well screened now and there are strict requirements for dental and medical procedures to be done under sterile conditions
– sharing razors and toothbrushes
Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through:
– Mother to baby during pregnancy and birth
– Unprotected sex with a person who is living with hepatitis B.
For hepatitis B – there is a vaccination to protect yourself from the virus. Newborn babies in Australia have been offered the vaccination since the year 2000. There are free catch up vaccinations if you may have missed out, and you can find out if you are not fully vaccinated through having a blood test for hep B.
If you are living with hepatitis B there is treatment available if you need it. Regular checkups with your doctor are important and a healthy lifestyle helps!
For hepatitis C – there is a 95% cure for people who take treatment. Treatment is comprised of a course of tablets over 8-12 weeks for most people and there are few side effects.
Get tested to know your hepatitis B and C status. There are a range of support services.
For more information
For more information about liver health and liver diseases, explore our website!
Call the LiverLine 1800 703 003 for information, support and referrals related to liver health. The information you provide is private and confidential.