DR Ian Hulme is GP with Meadowside Medical Centre, Congleton and clinical lead on substance misuse for NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG.
I’m sure many of us drank more alcohol than we normally would over the Christmas and New Year period, but now January is upon us and we’re all left wondering what damage we’ve done to our livers, and in some cases our dignity! But the good news is that it’s possible to knock our livers back into shape quickly by taking three simple steps:
●● Keep off alcohol for two or three days in a row ●● Take more exercise and stay fit ●● Cut down on sugar and fat
And there is motivation at hand in the New Year for anyone needing a nudge in the right direction after the seasonal celebrations in the form of Dry January.
Dry January is a fundraiser organised by Alcohol Concern – a national charity dedicated to changing the UK’s drinking culture. It’s a great way of giving your liver a break after the Christmas festivities, while establishing a positive attitude towards alcohol and raising money for charity.
And whether you’re taking a month-long break from booze or just cutting back, it’s worth remembering that not drinking for two or three days running gives the liver time to recover.
Providing the liver has no lasting damage, it can take as little as 24 hours to go back to normal. However, if alcohol is used irresponsibly it can have serious consequences for our health, and for the NHS.
Emergency admissions between November 2014 and October 2015 from Knutsford patients transferred to hospital from A&E with liver disease cost the NHS nearly £130,000.
While I would never want to preach, I would strongly encourage the adoption of positive habits which will have long-term benefits for your health.
And it’s not just about cutting down on the booze – eating well and exercising regularly will prevent people getting overweight and developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as cutting down on daily food indulgences and not overloading on sugary drinks.
Visit alcoholconcern. org.uk/what-we-do/ campaigns/dry-january/ to find out more about how you can get involved.
●● Doctor Ian Hulme