Air Pollution and Liver Health
Shashank, an environmentalist was giving a lecture on “Health effects of air pollution.” During his lecture, he said, “Recently, there has been strong evidence that air pollutants can induce liver toxicity and act to exacerbate liver inflammation and steatosis.”
He mentioned various diseases like,
- Air pollution increases the risk of metabolic dysfunction-linked fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is the accumulation of fat in the liver, which can lead to inflammation and scarring.
- Hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by a virus or other infection.
- Cirrhosis is a chronic condition that results in hardening and scarring of the liver.
- Specifically, exposure to fine particles can activate non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-like phenotype, inhibit hepatic glucose metabolism, and promote liver fibrogenesis.
- Hypoxic liver injury, also known as hypoxic hepatitis, is caused by insufficient oxygen uptake by centrilobular hepatocytes, resulting in necrosis. The most common cause is insufficient liver perfusion (ischemia) in the setting of inactive liver congestion or chronic liver disease.
He conlcuded his lecture and said, “If the air pollution index is high, go out less in the open, and wear a mask if you have to go out. You ned to quit drinking and smoking. Keep the environment clean and consult your doctor if the problem starts increasing.”
Renu and Divya's Story:
Hey, the levels of air pollution are rising, and everybody needs to take care. My mother just got diagnosed with fatty liver, and we are concerned.” Renu told her friend, Divya.
“Oh, that is so sad. By the way, what were the symptoms she experienced?” Divya asked.
“Symptoms of most liver diseases are abdominal pain or a feeling of fullness in the upper right side of the abdomen (tummy), nausea, loss of appetite or weight loss, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), swollen abdomen and legs (edema), extreme tiredness or mental confusion, weakness, etc.,” Renu replied.
“So, what’s next? What to do if one experiences such symptoms?” Divya asked.
“We took Mom to the hospital where the doctor prescribed some tests like blood tests, liver function, and blood count tests. In some cases, you may also have imaging tests, such as those that check for fat in the liver and the stiffness of your liver. Liver stiffness can mean fibrosis, which is scarring of the liver.” Renu replied.
“Okay, thanks, Renu. Also, how should one cope with all this?
“Losing weight is essential to keeping a fatty liver clear. If you are overweight or obese, lose weight, reduce the number of calories you eat each day and increase your physical activity, choose a healthy diet, exercise and be more active, control your diabetes, and lower your cholesterol.