DR Ian Hulme, GP with Meadowside Medical Centre, Congleton and clinical lead on substance misuse for NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG
Liver disease is a serious issue. Indeed, if liver disease deaths continue to rise at their current level, mortality rates will double in the next 20 years.
Twice as many people now die from liver disease as in 1991, and liver disease is the fifth biggest killer in England and Wales after heart disease, cancer, stroke and respiratory disease.
Emergency hospital admissions due to alcohol-related liver disease attributable to eastern Cheshire patients are consistently above the national average, which is particularly worrying considering the area performs highly on most other health measures.
Moreover, the liver is a remarkably durable organ that can return to normal in as little as 24 hours – as long as no lasting damage has been done.
There are three simple steps that people can take to knock their livers back into shape quickly:
• keep off alcohol for two or three days in a row – although I appreciate that’s difficult with the festive period is approaching
• take more exercise and stay fit
• cut down on sugar and fat.
Not drinking for two to three days’ running gives the liver time to recover and eating well, while exercising regularly will prevent people getting overweight and developing Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
Cutting down on daily food treats and not overloading on sugary drinks will help improve liver function.
On top of that, I would urge people feeling constantly tried to visit their GP and request a liver function test, especially if they have been pushing the boundaries regularly with alcohol or fatty foods.
And as jaundice can indicate liver damage, anyone noticing yellowing of their eyes or skin should visit their GP straightaway.
Prevention is better than cure, for patients and the NHS. That’s why I’m calling on people to look after their livers and stay healthy for a long and happy life.