The liver is the organ that may have worked the hardest on your behalf over Christmas and New Year.
And this means that Dry January – the public health campaign urging people to abstain from alcohol in the first month of the year – is a very good time to stop and think about the way you treat it.
The largest internal organ in the human body, the liver has hundreds of important jobs to do. It removes toxins, including alcohol from the body, helps to fight infection and produces the bile that helps breaks down our food and aids digestion.
Alcohol is one of the most common causes of liver disease, which can lead to cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver.
The organ can also be affected by hundreds of other health conditions, such as diabetes and cancer.
The liver is resilient and may be capable of regenerating itself so long as you don’t treat it too badly, although the process is not guaranteed and can take some time.
However, prolonged misuse of alcohol can result in serious and permanent liver damage. Consuming too much fatty, salty and sugary foods/drinks can also have a big impact on the health of your liver.
There are simple steps and lifestyle changes that you can take to help your liver, including reducing your alcohol intake to within safe limits, modifying your diet and taking steps to protect yourself in circumstances that could leave you vulnerable to hepatitis.
For some liver conditions there are repeat medication and treatments available. However, too much damage can lead to irreversible effects that may lead to needing a liver transplant. Speak to your local or online doctor if you are concerned about the health of your liver and would like help in reducing the risks, including cutting down on alcohol consumption.
Make 2018 the year you love your liver more, and start by going Dry this January.
Dr. Alexandra Phelan is an NHS GP and Online Doctor for Pharmacy2U. Manage your repeat prescriptions by going to www.pharmacy2u.co.uk/NHS