Hepatitis Awareness Week – look after your liver

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Health Experts at South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) are encouraging
people to look after their body’s largest and hardest working organ during Hepatitis Awareness Week (28 July – 3 August).

It is a global day of awareness, promoted by both the World Hepatitis Organisation and the World Hepatitis Alliance, to raise the profile of viral hepatitis, which kills 1.5million people worldwide each year – or as many people as HIV/AIDS.

In Australia, many, many more people die from viral hepatitis – an estimated 380 per year from hepatitis B and 530 every 12 months from hepatitis C – than die from HIV/AIDS.

South Western Sydney Local Health District Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dr Miriam Levy, stressed the importance of loving your liver.

“Most people know what their heart and lungs do but many don’t know much about the vital role their liver plays in the overall functioning of the body,” Dr Levy said.

“The liver is the body’s largest internal organ and performs more than 500 functions every day, including clearing the blood of waste products and storing essential vitamins, minerals and iron.

“Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, caused when it is damaged by viruses, alcohol, drugs and other toxins or when the immune system breaks down,” she said.

Tips to help you love your liver:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and limit your fat intake
  • Avoid fad diets, which can put excessive stress on your liver
  • Avoid or limit consumption of alcohol and quit smoking
  • Go for regular blood tests to check the levels of fat, cholesterol and glucose in your blood
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B
  • Take no more than the recommended doses of medications and be careful when using
    multiple drugs and natural therapies
  • Protect yourself by practicing safer sex and don’t share toothbrushes, razors or other personal care items with others
  • Don’t ignore your liver! If you’ve been told that something is wrong with your liver, ask your doctor for a referral to a liver specialist (hepatologist)
  • Take care with tattoos and piercings – make sure you find an establishment that is clean and adheres to meticulous sterilisation practices
  • Be aware of the harm caused by using recreational drugs
  • For more information on hepatitis and ways to love your liver, visit Love your Liver website.