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Preventing Liver Disease
What Your Liver Does
Types of Damage That Occur
and E are spread through contaminated food and water or by person-to-person contact. The infection usually does not progress to chronic hepatitis. Preventive measures include:
- Get the hepatitis A vaccine if you are at high risk for hepatitis A
- Wash your hands with soap and water. This is very important after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before eating or preparing food.
- Avoid using household utensils that a person with hepatitis A may touch. Make sure all household utensils are carefully cleaned.
- Avoid sexual contact with a person with hepatitis A.
If you travel to a high risk region, take the following precautions:
- Drink bottled water.
- Avoid ice chips.
- Wash fruits well.
- Eat well-cooked food.
- At least one month before travel, ask your doctor if you need a hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin shot.
, and D are transmitted through exposure to infected blood, sexual contact, childbirth (mother to child), or affected family members. The infection can progress to chronic hepatitis. Preventive measures include:
- Use condoms or do not have sex.
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
- Do not inject drugs. If you use IV drugs, get treatment to help you stop.
- Never share needles or syringes.
Do not share personal items that might have blood on them, such as:
- Manicuring tools
- Pierced earrings
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis B if you are at high risk for contracting hepatitis B
- If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure the artist or piercer properly sterilizes the equipment. You might get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them.
- If you are a healthcare or public safety worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharp instruments.
Wear gloves when touching or cleaning up body fluids on items such as:
- Cover open cuts or wounds.
- If you are pregnant, have a blood test for hepatitis B.
Heavy Alcohol Consumption
- Drink in moderation.
- Don’t consume more than one daily drink if you’re a woman or two if you’re a man.
- If you already have liver problems, don’t drink at all.
Medications and Supplements
Detection of Disease
American Liver Foundation http://www.liverfoundation.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases http://www.niddk.nih.gov
The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) http://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Liver Foundation http://www.liver.ca
Resnick RH, Chopra S. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: a common hepatic disorder. Family Practice Recertification. 2002;24:43-50.
Riley TR, Bhatti AM. Preventive strategies in chronic liver disease: Part I. Alcohol, vaccines, toxic medications and supplements, diet and exercise. American Family Physician. 2001;64:1555-1560.
Riley TR, Bhatti AM. Preventive strategies in chronic liver disease: Part II. Cirrhosis. American Family Physician. 2001;64:1735-1740.
Symptoms of liver disease. US Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/patient/basics/liver-disease-symptoms.asp. Accessed February 4, 2014.
Why you need to protect your liver. Consumer Reports on Health. April 2001;6-9.
Yoshida EM. Abnormal liver function tests: What to do for the patient. Consultant. April 1, 2003;505-517.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 02/04/2014