Five health checks to keep your liver healthy in 2023
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With the start of a new year, there’s no better time to check in on your liver health.
1 in 4 Queenslanders has liver disease, and many don’t even know it. Liver disease not only puts you at risk of cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), but also liver cancer, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
The good news is that, in many cases, it can be reversed or treated. Here are five liver health checks you can talk to your doctor about.
Liver function test
Liver function tests (LFTs) are used to help diagnose and monitor liver disease or damage. This blood test measures the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in your blood to check if your liver is working as it should.
While abnormal test results don’t always mean your liver is damaged, it’s important to talk with your doctor about what the results mean for your particular situation.
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are blood-borne viruses that can cause chronic liver disease if not treated or regularly monitored. People with hepatitis B or C often experience little to no symptoms and can go for many years with no sign of liver damage.
Thankfully testing for hepatitis B and C is simple with either a blood test or fingerprick test. It’s useful to be aware that testing for hepatitis is not part of routine blood tests and you will need to ask your doctor to order these tests.
If you need help finding a doctor you can use our health directory to search for a local service.
A FibroScan (also called liver scan or elastography) is a non-invasive, painless test similar to an ultrasound. It measures any stiffness or scarring (fibrosis) in your liver and helps your doctor determine if your liver is damaged.
To receive an accurate result, you will need to fast for two hours before the scan. FibroScans are available with a referral from your doctor.
Watch our FibroScan video to learn more about it.
Are your vaccinations up to date? The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants at birth, children, and adults at high risk. Having all hepatitis B vaccination doses will provide most people with life long protection.
If you’re not sure you’ve been vaccinated, you can ask your doctor for a blood test. Your test results will show if you have been vaccinated previously, how high your immunity is, and whether you need further vaccinations.
Read more about hepatitis B vaccinations.
Diabetes raises your risk of liver disease, with half of those with type 2 diabetes living with fatty liver disease. Diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test to check your glucose levels. Diagnosing diabetes early means it can be better controlled and reduce the risk of complications.
While you may not have any symptoms of type 2 diabetes early on, symptoms can include:
- Feeling very thirsty
- Passing more urine
- Cuts that are slow to heal
Visit Diabetes Australia for more information on diabetes.
The liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body. It works “behind the scenes”, performing over 500 functions. We couldn’t live without it! Talk to your doctor today about how to keep your liver in tip top shape.
For questions on liver health and hepatitis call the free national Infoline on 1800 437 222.