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Quiz: How well do you know your liver?

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What job does your liver do?

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What job does your liver do?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Your liver is a true multi-tasker, managing about 500 different jobs in your body. As well as making bile, which helps digest your food, it also breaks food down into nutrients and provides glucose for energy. Another critical role for the liver is to provide the body with a natural detox system, removing toxic chemicals from your blood. If that's not enough, it also plays a role in helping blood clot.

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A normal liver is the size of:

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A normal liver is the size of:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Shaped like a wedge or a boomerang, the liver is the second largest organ of the body (after your skin) and is about the size of 5 fists. It weighs in at around 3 lbs or 1.3 kgs. It's found under your rib cage on the right side of your body. Sometimes the liver swells beyond its normal size, which is usually a sign of an underlying problem.

What tests may show there's a problem with the liver?

What tests may show there's a problem with the liver?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

A series of blood tests are usually used initially to diagnose liver problems such as injury, infection or disease. Your GP may arrange liver function tests (LFTs) if you:

  • Are taking medicine that could damage the liver
  • Have symptoms of liver or bile system disease
  • Drink alcohol to excess
  • Have been exposed to certain infections such as hepatitis B.

Other tests, such as a CT scan, MRI scan and ultrasound scan may also be used to identify liver problems.

Is it true that the liver can regenerate itself?

Is it true that the liver can regenerate itself?

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  • Correct Answer:

It's true, the liver is the only organ in the body with the amazing ability to "grow back" if it suffers damage, or part of it is removed in an operation. This means people can donate parts of their livers to people with liver disease and the donor's liver will regenerate itself. Although you don't need to be related to someone to donate part of your liver, most donors are relatives or close friends.

It's a good idea to detox your liver each month.

It's a good idea to detox your liver each month.

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  • Correct Answer:

Some people believe their livers need regular detoxification and limit their diet to juices or natural foods in an effort to wash out toxins. The body is being bombarded daily by substances with potentially harmful effects, such as caffeine, alcohol, medications, and environmental chemicals and pollutants. However, there's little evidence to support the idea that detox diets or "cleanses" work. A healthy lifestyle is all you need to help your liver do the work it needs to do.

Why does drinking too much alcohol harm your liver?

Why does drinking too much alcohol harm your liver?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Just as it deals with other toxins, the liver breaks down alcohol to help get rid of it from your body. Overdoing it with too much alcohol puts a strain on the liver and may cause damage - especially over time. These conditions are associated with alcohol:

  • Alcohol-related liver disease (fatty liver disease)
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis

If you suspect you may be drinking too much, talk to your GP and get help.

Paracetamol can't harm your liver.

Paracetamol can't harm your liver.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Excessive doses of paracetamol are associated with serious liver damage. It's important to be vigilant as paracetamol is an ingredient in many other treatments, from cold and cough medicine to pain relievers. Always check the label on any prescribed or over-the-counter medication and follow the advice to the letter.

Which condition causes yellow eyes or skin?

Which condition causes yellow eyes or skin?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

If your skin looks yellow, or there's a yellow tinge to the whites of your eyes, you may have jaundice. These symptoms develop when the liver is unable to filter bilirubin out of the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow-pigmented fluid that is produced during the normal breakdown of red blood cells.

 

If you develop hepatitis, you may become jaundiced. Other conditions that cause it are gallstones and cirrhosis. Some newborn babies have jaundice because their liver is still developing and isn't functioning properly yet. 

Does heavy drinking always cause cirrhosis?

Does heavy drinking always cause cirrhosis?

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  • Correct Answer:

If you are a heavy drinker, you have an increased chance of developing cirrhosis - scarring of the liver. It's the most serious type of liver disease and causes about 4,000 deaths in the UK each year. Most people who drink heavily end up doing some harm to their liver. What's more, liver damage caused by cirrhosis can't be reversed - but if you stop drinking, you can stop the disease getting any worse.

Giving up drinking alcohol is the only way to prevent liver damage.

Giving up drinking alcohol is the only way to prevent liver damage.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

While drinking less alcohol can certainly help with liver problems, there are also other measures you can take. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting sufficient exercise, all help. You may also want to be tested for hepatitis C. Many people in the UK are infected with hepatitis C, but many are unaware they have the virus. Symptoms include jaundice, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and fatigue. See your GP as hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis in the long term. 

It’s immediately obvious if you have liver problems.

It’s immediately obvious if you have liver problems.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Liver disease and liver failure can be silent and develop gradually over many years. This means lots of people don’t know they have a problem until the damage is done. High levels of alcohol consumption have contributed to an increase in liver disease in the UK. The other major causes are obesity and undiagnosed infection. Warning signs are often vague but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Itchy skin
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Dark urine
  • Confusion
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin

You can get vaccinated against:

You can get vaccinated against:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

There are as yet no vaccines available against hepatitis C, D, or E, but there are safe and effective vaccines for hepatitis A and B. In the UK hepatitis B vaccination is now part of the routine childhood immunisation programme. Other people might be offered vaccination against hepatitis A and B if their lifestyle or job puts them at risk of getting these infections.  

You usually get hepatitis C through sex.

You usually get hepatitis C through sex.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Hepatitis C is not only contracted through sex. It's spread when the blood or body fluids from an infected person enter the body of someone who is not immune, by:

  • Sharing needles or drugs
  • Infected needles (including accidental jabs and tattoo needles)
  • During birth from mother to child
  • Having sex with an infected person without a condom
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