October is Liver Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of liver health and education and urging people to lead a healthy lifestyle. These efforts hope to reduce the frequency and impact of liver failure or diseases from poor health conditions. Liver failure occurs when large parts of the organ become damaged beyond repair and it loses its ability to remove toxic byproducts. Today, more than 14,000 of the candidates on the national transplant waiting list are in need of a liver.
People often have little understanding of the functions the liver performs and the role it plays in keeping the body healthy. As the second largest organ in the human body, the liver turns the things we consume into energy and nutrients and removes harmful substances from the bloodstream. Alcoholism, hepatitis, and fatty liver disease from obesity are the most common liver failures. Currently, more than 30 million Americans have some form of liver disease.
Though adults are most likely to develop liver disease, children are also at risk. Before Simon was diagnosed with liver disease at 10 years old, he enjoyed his active lifestyle playing sports, especially basketball. He noticed that changes to his health began to affect his ability to play the sport he loved most. As his liver condition limited his physical activities, Simon focused on his education and a new perspective on life. Today, post liver transplant Simon enjoys an active life once again.
“I want to show everyone that it’s not about what your life throws at you, it’s about what you do with it and how you adapt. My liver transplant changed me. It allowed me to finally become myself and pursue the dreams and activities I’ve always desired,” he said.
During October, the American Liver Foundation hopes to highlight the causes of and treatments for diseases that affect the liver like hepatitis A, B, and C. Additionally, the foundation hopes to draw attention to an alarming increase in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), which affects up to 25 percent of people in the United States, including one in every 10 children. Given the wide range of issues relating to liver wellness, the foundation offers the public, “13 Ways to Have a Healthy Liver.” Helpful tips to lead an active lifestyle and ways to prevent from developing liver diseases:
- Eat a balanced diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid toxins from cleaning or aerosol products, and chemicals
- Drink alcohol responsibly
- Get medical care if exposed to blood
- Don’t share personal hygiene items
- Practice safe sex
- Wash your hands
- Follow directions on all medications carefully
- Get vaccinated, vaccines provided for hepatitis A and B