Teen and Young Adults

The Impact of Liver Disease

Did you know there are more than 100 different types of liver disease? Millions of Americans are affected by liver disease, including:

  • Fatty liver disease
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Alcohol related liver disease
  • Genetic liver disease

Risks for Liver Disease

  • Heredity
  • Viruses
  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices
    • Alcohol consumption and binge drinking.
    • Sharing needles and other equipment for injection drug use.
    • Unsanitary tattoos and piercings.
    • Unprotected sex.
    • Poor diet, lack of exercise, being overweight.

What does your liver do?

  • Acts like a filter.
  • Processes everything, we eat, drink, breathe, and absorb through our skin
  • Helps build muscle.
  • Helps make bile to digest food.
  • Stops cuts from bleeding.
  • Kills germs.
  • Detoxifies substances that are harmful to your body.

Alcohol and your Liver

Alcohol is the most used drug among adults in the United States

The liver breaks down alcohol so it can be removed from your body.

Drinking more alcohol than the body can process at any given time can cause serious liver injury, causing preventable diseases, even among young people.

Here are some injuries that can occur:

  • Alcohol related hepatitis.
  • Alcohol related fatty liver disease.
  • Alcohol related cirrhosis.

What is Binge Drinking?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks and when women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours

What is Alcohol Misuse?

Alcohol misuse is a pattern of drinking that interferes with day-to-day activities.

Physical and psychological issues of alcohol misuse can include:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Reduce inhibitions.
  • Lack of focus.
  • Memory problems.
  • Depression and/or anxiety.
  • Legal problems.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?  

  • Alcohol misuse that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD.
  • AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake and a negative emotional state when not using.
  • An estimated 401,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 have Alcohol Use Disorder. This number includes 173,000 males and 227,000 females.
  • An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Hepatitis C and Body Art 

  • Insanitary tattooing and piercing can transmit hepatitis C.
  • Always go to a trained professional – avoid “do-it-yourself" or at home tattooing or piercing.
  • Make sure your tattoo and piercing shop follows state and local laws. Check with your local department of health to learn more.
  • Reusable equipment must be sterilized using special equipment to prevent infection.

Hepatitis C and Other Risks

  • Sharing razors and hygiene equipment with other people puts you at risk for hepatitis C. If they cut themselves, a small amount of their blood may be on the item – and if they have hepatitis C, that blood can infect you if it enters your bloodstream
  • Avoid practices such as “blood brothers” or “blood pacts”
  • Avoid medical risks – always call for emergency help if you are with someone who is injured and bleeding

Viral Hepatitis and Sex

  • Hepatitis A, B, and C can be transmitted sexually
  • Hepatitis A can be transmitted through oral/anal contact.
  • Hepatitis B can be sexually transmitted through semen and vaginal secretions.
  • Hepatitis C can be sexually transmitted if any blood transfer occurs during sexual activities.
  • Vaccination for Hepatitis A and B is highly recommended. Remember – there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, so precautions are essential.

Drug Induced Liver Injury 

  • Prescription medications
    • Require a doctor’s prescription.  
    • Require a pharmacist to dispense.
    • Are closely monitored and regulated.
    • Are subject to rules for producing and marketing.
  • Over-the-Counter medications
    • Do not require a prescription.
    • Are safe when used as instructed on the label.
    • Are closely monitored and regulated.
    • Are subject to rules for producing and marketing.
    • Note that it is important to tell your doctors what medications you are taking.
  • Supplements
    • Are intended to supplement a diet.
    • Contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or botanicals, and other substances.
    • Are not closely monitored or regulated.
    • Have fewer rules for producing and marketing.
    • Examples of supplements include weight loss products, protein powders, body building products, and vitamins.
  • Medications and the Liver
    • The liver processes and breaks down many medications.
    • Many dietary supplements are associated with liver damage.
    • Some products can interact badly with prescription medication, making them less effective and dangerous.
    • Always share with your doctor every type of medication you take.

Acetaminophen and the Liver

  • Acetaminophen is a chemical compound used for pain relief and reducing fever.
  • It is found in over 600 prescription and over the counter medications.
  • It can be in the form of pills, syrups, and drops.
  • It is safe for most people if taken properly.
  • In high doses, it can be toxic to the liver.
  • Acetaminophen overdose is the most common cause of drug-induced liver injury.
  • Read all medication instructions before you take them.
  • Double check ingredients so you don’t double up on acetaminophen.

Post-Transplant Medications

  • Tacrolimus
  • Prednisone 
  • Cellcept
  • Aspirin
  • Omeprazole

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • How will this affect my life in the future?
  • Can I still live a “normal life”? When can I drive again?
  • How often will I have doctor’s appointments?
  • Can I play sports?
  • Can I eat out at restaurants?
  • Can I ever drink?
  • Can I hang out with friends who do not get the flu/covid vaccine?
  • When can I go back to school?
  • Can I exercise?

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Last updated on August 16th, 2023 at 03:13 pm

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