October is Liver Awareness Month

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Kathy and senior cooking_50.jpgThe liver: We all have one, but how much do most people know about it? October, which is Liver Awareness Month, is an excellent time for aging parents and other seniors to ​pay a little extra attention to this vital organ.

About the Liver

The liver is the second largest organ in the body (skin is the largest), and it plays several important roles.  Among these are taking food and drink and converting them into nutrients and energy, as well as acting as a filter to help remove unwanted substances from the blood. The liver also produces chemicals that are important in aiding digestion.

Liver Awareness Month

Liver Awareness Month focuses attention on issues that can develop for aging parents and others, as well as on ways to help prevent liver issues from occurring. Some of the most common liver concerns are:

  • Cirrhosis. Cirrhosis describes a condition in which significant scarring occurs in the liver, causing significant damage and impeding liver function. In the public mind, excessive alcohol intake is associated with cirrhosis, but there can be many other causes, including diabetes, heart failure, obesity, and hepatitis.
  • Hepatitis. Hepatitis refers to serious inflammation of the liver, often leading to jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, and cirrhosis. Hepatitis is often associated with a viral infection, but there can be other causes (such as heavy drinking).  More than 4,000,000 Americans have hepatitis B or C; most are unaware of their status.
  • Gallstones. Gallstones form in the gall bladder, which is located right next to the liver. Sometimes a stone can get stuck in the duct between the two, which can result in damage to the liver.
  • Liver cancer. Liver cancer is usually preceded by another condition, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Keeping Healthy

There are numerous things that aging parents and others can do to keep the liver healthy. These include:

  • Eating healthily. Fatty foods can be bad for the liver. Eating a well-balanced diet, especially one that includes lots of fiber-rich foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, is important.
  • Exercising sufficiently. Exercise helps keeps weight under control and also strengthens the liver.
  • Watching alcohol. Too much alcohol destroys liver cells. Heavy drinkers who are able to cut down on (or eliminate) alcohol intake are doing their livers a big favor.
  • Tracking medications. Some medications can affect the liver, especially when taken inappropriately. Working with a doctor to determine whether medications pose a threat to the liver is important.

Those aging parents who take care of their liver will reap benefits down the road.

Related Article
Add Fiber to Your Diet with Peas and Beans!​ - newportnews.myhomecareblog.com


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