World Liver Day 2022: Do painkillers harm the liver? Here's what doctors say
World Liver Day 2022: From warning signs signalling the reduction of pain killer consumption to difference in side effects of painkillers between men and women, here's all you need to know about whether painkillers are responsible for liver diseases
Marked every year on April 19, World Liver Day is observed globally to spread awareness about liver related disease as it is a key player in our body’s digestive system and can be easily damaged if not taken good care of. Liver is the largest internal organ that lies under our right ribs, just beneath our right lung and not only removes toxins and other chemical waste products from the blood but is also responsible for continuously filtering blood that circulates through the body and converting nutrients and drugs absorbed from the digestive tract into ready-to-use chemicals.
Till date, over 500 functions have been attributed to the liver and scientists say more may be discovered over time. The most important function of the liver is processing of all that we consume, whether it be food, alcohol, drugs or poisons and the liver gets damaged by all the toxins we consume.
Infections in blood also reach the liver and inflict damage while many other disease processes, inflammations and diseases, including cancer in other organs, also target the liver. Did you know that non-prescription pain medicines might harm our liver if used repeatedly?
Health experts warn that the painkillers might worsen the effect if consumed in combination with alcohol. A major cause of acute liver injury is drug-induced liver injury (DILI) and paracetamol, often known as acetaminophen, has become one of the leading causes of acute liver failure.
What are some warning signs signalling the reduction of pain killer consumption?
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Akash Shukla, Director of Hepatology at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, revealed, “When the liver is damaged beyond a particular point, which is called as advanced Cirrhosis. It is unable to handle the toxic materials which are produced in the body and harmful substances absorbed by the intestines, since many of these chemicals bypass the liver they are circulated in the body.”
He added, “Some of these escape through the lungs in gaseous form. This escape of some of the materials, especially those called mercaptans, can cause a distinct smell in the breath which is called fetor hepaticus. This is a peculiar pungent smell like rotten eggs and can indicate advanced liver disease.”
Do the side effects of painkillers differ between men and women?
Dr Ameet Mandot, Senior Consultant and Clinical lead - Adult Hepatology and Liver Transplant unit at Mumbai's Global Hospital, highlighted that there is no significant difference in side effect of painkillers between men and women as the side effects depend more on genetic predisposition of individual rather than gender.