Liver diseases can be prevented through vaccination and lifestyle changes, say experts. India is home to 11 per cent of patients suffering from chronic Hepatitis B, and the number of deaths from liver cancer and cirrhosis is too high.

The common misconception when it comes to liver damage is eyes turning yellow. Loss of appetite and prolonged tiredness are symptoms that should not be ignored. In fact, there is a lot that patients can learn from the Internet about liver disorders.

An ex-serviceman who suffered from acute liver failure following a severe attack of jaundice got a fresh lease of life after his son prevailed upon him to undergo a liver transplant after reading about it on the web. “Medicine is a subject that is advancing rapidly, and even doctors need to be constantly learning,” said liver transplant expert Dr. Thomas Cherian.

Giving statistics, he says India is home to 11 per cent of patients suffering from chronic Hepatitis B, and the number of deaths from liver cancer and cirrhosis is too high.

“It is estimated that about 2 lakh people are diagnosed with end-stage liver disease each year, and about 0.02 per cent of the population (25,000) need liver transplant every year,” said Dr. Cherian. According to senior hepatologist Dharmesh Kapoor, awareness about chronic liver diseases is poor even in the health care sector. It is possible to prevent some liver diseases with vaccination and lifestyle changes. Hepatitis B is one of the common causes of chronic liver disease in the country. Even though the vaccine is cheap, it is not included in the universal immunisation programme. Contrary to popular belief, it is not alcohol alone that causes chronic liver disease. Fatty liver disease is now a common problem.

Dr. Kapoor said fatty liver disease and alcohol-related liver damage could be easily prevented with modifications in lifestyle.

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