How aware are Nigerians about liver health? By Abujah Racheal

World Liver Day 2022: How aware are Nigerians of liver health?

Liver

News analysis by Abujah Racheal (NAN)

The liver is located on the right side of the upper abdomen, below the rib cage. The gallbladder, part of the pancreas and intestines, is located below the liver. These organs work in harmony to digest, absorb and transform the food consumed.

The main function of the liver is to filter the blood, detoxify chemicals and metabolize drugs. It also makes proteins essential for blood clotting and other functions. If the liver is overloaded, it cannot function optimally, and the result is damage to the liver and other parts of the body.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO), released in 2018, indicates that deaths from liver disease in Nigeria reached 60,044, or 3.10% of the total number of deaths.

The age-adjusted mortality rate is 64.44 per 100,000 population. It ranks Nigeria second in the world.

Liver disease accounts for approximately two million deaths per year worldwide, one million from complications of cirrhosis and one million from viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Cirrhosis is currently the 11th most common cause of death worldwide and liver cancer is the 16th leading cause of death; combined, they represent 3.5% of all deaths worldwide.

Cirrhosis is among the top 20 causes of disability-adjusted life years and years of life lost, accounting for 1.6% and 2.1% of the global burden.

Approximately two billion people consume alcohol worldwide and more than 75 million are diagnosed with alcohol use disorders and are at risk for alcohol-related liver disease.

About two billion adults are obese or overweight and more than 400 million suffer from diabetes; both of which are risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. The global prevalence of viral hepatitis remains high, while drug-induced liver injury continues to rise as a major cause of acute hepatitis.

Liver transplantation is the second most common solid organ transplant, yet less than 10% of global transplant needs are met at current rates.

While these numbers are sobering, they highlight a significant opportunity to improve public health given that most causes of liver disease are preventable.

This World Liver Day focuses on ways to maintain a healthy and functioning liver.

On the occasion of World Liver Day 2022, although this year’s theme has not been released, last year’s World Liver Day theme is “keep your liver healthy and disease-free”. “.

World Liver Day is celebrated every April 19 to raise awareness of liver-related diseases. The liver is one of the most important and second largest organs in the body. It is also considered to be one of the most complex organs that perform crucial bodily functions such as digestion, immunity, metabolism, and storage of nutrition.

The liver is an organ that can be easily damaged if you don’t take good care of it.

The liver works hard, performing hundreds of complex functions, including “fighting infection and disease, regulating blood sugar, removing toxic substances from the body, controlling cholesterol levels, helping the blood to clot (thicken) and release blood. bile (a liquid that breaks down fats and aids in digestion).

Liver disease usually has no obvious signs or symptoms until it is quite advanced and the liver is damaged. At this stage, possible symptoms are loss of appetite, weight loss and jaundice, according to a 2013 study to determine the pattern and risk factors of liver disease at a Nigerian tertiary hospital, the hospital University Ituku/Ozalla, Enugu State. , Nigeria.

The study found that liver disease accounted for 7.9% of medical admissions, with primary liver cancer and liver cirrhosis accounting for 44.3% and 20.4%, respectively.

The main risk factors are alcohol consumption (52.1%), hepatitis B virus infection (49.4%), ingestion of herbs and roots (45.5% ) and smoking (30.1%).

The study concluded that cirrhosis of the liver and primary liver cancer account for two-thirds of liver disease among patients hospitalized in a Nigerian tertiary hospital.

The main putative risk factors are alcohol consumption, hepatitis B virus infection, use of herbs and roots, and smoking.

Furthermore, a study showed the pattern, clinical presentations, risk factors and determinants of morbidity and mortality in patients with liver disease admitted to a tertiary hospital in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. .

The five-year plus study period (2013-2017) revealed that a total of 5,155 patients were admitted, liver disease accounted for 324 (6.3%) of medical admissions during the period, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounting for 52.8 percent, liver cirrhosis (LC) – 27.2 percent, acute hepatitis – 10.38 percent, metastatic liver disease – 4.1 percent, autoimmune hepatitis – 1.7 percent, DILI – 0.7 percent, liver abscess – 1 percent, abdominal tuberculosis – 1.4 percent and unclassified etiology – 1.76 percent.

The five-year South West Nigeria Tertiary Hospital study of liver disease admission pattern, reported that a total of 139 cases were hepatitis surface antigen positive B (HBsAg), 64 took alcohol, 67 took herbs, while 57 took self-prescribed medication.

Mortality among all patients admitted to the emergency department versus the medical clinic was 81.9% versus 18.1%.

Elevated creatinine, coagulation disorder, hypoalbuminemia, and hypokalemia contributed to mortality.

The study concluded that HCC and LC accounted for the majority of liver disease in hospitalized patients with high mortality among all patients admitted to the emergency department and those with elevated creatinine, coagulopathy, and low potassium and d albumin.

The main etiological factors were hepatitis B virus infection, alcohol and self-prescribed drugs.

Another study conducted in the south-south (Calabar) zone of Nigeria showed a high prevalence rate of chronic liver diseases with a prevalence associated with hepatitis B and C of 62.3% and 12.3% respectively.

The south-south study showed that there was also a high incidence of chronic liver disease among children in Nigeria, which was attributed to inflammatory disorders and tumors – 33.3% respectively, cirrhosis/ fibrosis (28.6%) and metabolic (storage) diseases (4.8%) as well as neonatal hepatitis followed by giant cell hepatitis and viral hepatitis (33.3%).

This study shows that the burden of chronic liver disease was a major global health problem due to its high prevalence in both developed and low- and middle-income countries, with an increasing mortality rate of 59%.

According to public health expert Dr. Patrick Chinedu, an unhealthy liver creates unwanted symptoms such as jaundice, abdominal pain and swelling, bloody stools, chronic fatigue, nausea, vomiting, etc. and can eventually progress to life-threatening disease and liver. failure.

Chinedu said the overconsumption of alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation and destruction of liver cells) and cirrhosis “where healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue and the liver can no longer function properly permanently”.

“The liver is damaged by excessive alcohol consumption because it cannot quickly process the amount of alcohol consumed. The liver also needs water to help process the toxin and alcohol is a diuretic which dehydrates the liver. body. For a healthy liver, abstain from or moderate alcohol consumption,” he advised.

The expert said that in Nigeria, there is a high incidence of chronic liver disease with varying degree of prevalence reported in different geopolitical areas of the country.

“These have been attributed to low vaccination rates and the lack of an effective national policy on the treatment and prevention of chronic liver disease.

“Although there are implantations of HBV vaccination programs around the world, the intervention should be evaluated to actively involve the vaccination of pregnant women and newborns, since mother-to-child transmission accounts for almost all cases of CHB in Africa and Asia, alongside Hepatitis C programs should be instituted as programs have been developed in some countries but do not exist in most, including regions with the highest prevalence. high,” he said.

Chinedu said early diagnosis would definitely pay off as it would create space for management and administration of available drugs as this would prevent cirrhosis and carcinomas from taking hold.

He therefore stated that these approaches, along with the integration of laboratory diagnosis of liver disease into routine laboratory diagnosis across the country, would improve early diagnosis and significantly reduce the burden of chronic liver disease, not only in Nigeria but in the world.

“Therefore, World Liver Day acts as a reminder to stay current and well-informed about liver disease.

“On World Liver Day, let us stand with all those who suffer from liver disease and let them know that they are not alone in their fight.

“As Nigerians, if we want to lead healthy lives and make a difference in the world, it is time for us to start taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.

“We won’t always be able to detect the signs of hepatitis, so let’s be careful. It is good for us to know more about our organs on this World Liver Day,” he advised.

Berries are the healthiest fruits, offering potential protection against cancer and heart disease, boosting the immune system and acting as a protector for liver and brain.

The late American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said; “life loves the liver.”

AIR/WAV

Source credit: NAN

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