Before you pop that pill

Before you pop that pill

Before you pop that pill

Most people usually avoid consulting doctors and resort to self-medication. Little do they realise that one of the lesser-known causes of liver damage is self-medication, cautions Dr Jayashree Keshav.

With several factors contributing towards the malfunctioning of the liver, liver diseases have become a common health concern in India. One of the lesser-known causes of liver damage is self-medication. More often than not, people avoid consulting doctors and resort to self-medication.

There have been many cases of medicines being consumed over and above the prescribed dosage. Mixing of different drugs can also result in adverse reactions in the body.

Liver processes most of the drugs entering the bloodstream and controls drug activity throughout the body. Once a drug enters the bloodstream, the liver converts the drug into chemicals the body can use and removes toxic chemicals unacceptable to other organs. Sometimes, the chemicals can potentially attack and injure the liver.

Misuse of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs, or taking higher doses without consulting your doctor can cause severe side-effects. Drugs, when consumed irresponsibly, can lead to inflammation of the liver, resulting in a condition known as drug-induced hepatitis.

Symptoms

Abdominal pain and swelling
Diarrhoea
Fatigue
Fever
Headache
Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, dark urine)
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Rashes
White or clay-coloured stools

Detection

Doctors may look at your complete medical history or even conduct a physical examination to check for an enlarged liver or abdominal tenderness. Liver function tests as well as other procedures such as ultrasound, CT scan, even liver biopsy may be conducted to understand the effects caused by consumption of drugs.

Prevention

Avoid self-medication. Do not take medicines without consulting your doctor. Medicines tend to react differently depending on individual body conditions.

Keep your doctor informed about any underlying liver diseases.

Taking medication with persisting liver diseases can result in serious side-effects. Make sure your doctor is well aware of any such conditions.

Inform your doctor about your medical history. Your doctor will prescribe
medicines accordingly.

Undertake periodic liver function tests. Many people avoid taking the liver function tests. However, this is one of the best ways to make sure that the drugs you are consuming are causing no harm.

Stick to what has been prescribed. Do not exceed the recommended dosage prescribed by the doctor. In case the problem persists or increases, make sure you let your doctor know.

Lead a healthy lifestyle. Nothing works better for the body than a healthy routine. With sedentary lifestyles becoming a common affair, the liver bears the brunt of its effects. A healthy diet and regular exercise is an absolute must to keep the liver in its best form.

Incorporating several natural ingredients in one’s diet helps in maintaining the overall health of the liver. Herbs such as garlic and turmeric flush away toxins by activating enzymes in the liver.

Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, chicory and bitter melon are great detoxifiers and work wonders in improving the health of your liver.

The writer is in-charge of Scientific Publications, The Himalaya Drug Company

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