Liver health during covid-19: find out how the virus affects the organ and tips to keep it healthy
Liver health during covid-19: find out how the virus affects the organ and tips to keep it healthy | Photo credit: Pixabay & nbsp
New Delhi: Up to half the number of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 will have disturbed liver function tests. The altered tests are the result of damage to liver cells (from covid-19 or drugs used to treat) and although it is commonly seen, most of these patients do not develop symptoms of liver dysfunction. This damage is transient and the liver returns to its original state with recovery from COVID, without permanent damage.
In this article, New Delhi-based liver transplant surgeon KR Vasudevan talks about the effect of COVID on the liver.
While co-morbidities (diabetes, heart and kidney disease) increase the risk of developing serious illness and death in people infected with COVID, common liver diseases (for example, fatty liver disease) do not increase the risk of serious illness. These common liver conditions also probably do not increase the risk of contracting covid-19 compared to healthy adults. The only exception is cirrhosis, this severe liver damage in these patients confers a high risk of severe disease and death (up to 50%) if they contract covid-19.
Optimal treatment of existing medical conditions, including liver disease, decreases the risk of severe covid-19. Please continue treatment for existing illnesses unless advised otherwise by a healthcare provider. The fear of contracting covid during hospital visits for consultations is real, but postponing care because of this fear is worse. This has resulted in patients being brought to hospital in poor condition due to complications and poorly controlled pre-existing disease. Do not interrupt the continuity of care, contact the healthcare team and check if the visits can be postponed or carried out by phone or internet.
The best strategy for protecting yourself from covid is to avoid exposure to the virus and to take the same preventative measures everyone else does – wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated areas, frequent hand washing. When soap and water are not available, use a disinfectant (with at least 60% alcohol).
Do not try to take medications (allopathic or alternative medical systems) yourself in order to boost immunity to covid. Not only may this be of no help in preventing covid, in many cases, it has also resulted in side effects, including drug-induced liver damage.
Vaccination is a good strategy to protect yourself from COVID and is strongly recommended. Remember to continue preventive actions even after vaccinations, because vaccination is not 100% effective, especially against mutant forms of the virus. Vaccination against influenza and pneumococcal disease would help people with co-morbidities, including severe liver disease.
Other general precautions – maintain a healthy lifestyle, stay socially connected and in good mental health. Stop smoking, it decreases the chances of developing serious complications from covid.
- Avoid / reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol does not protect against covid 19
- Wash vegetables and fruits of pesticides and toxins
- Prevent hepatitis A, B – get vaccinated, wash your hands frequently
- Finally, help minimize the stigma associated with covid 19. Most people with symptoms of COVID-19 recover and recover on their own. Only a small portion becomes seriously ill or dies (1-2%). Reduce the spread of rumors and misinformation, support (emotionally) the unfortunate people who have contracted the disease.
We are in this battle together – together we will win!
Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting a fitness program or making any changes to your diet.