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Did your holiday celebrations include sipping spiked cider around the fire, champagne toasts and trying a new chocolate martini recipe? If you raised one too many glasses this holiday season, you may be at risk for more than extra holiday pounds.

Approximately 4.5 million Americans suffer from liver disease, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control. Weighing in at three pounds, the liver is the largest organ in the human body. Its job is to clean toxins from the body by filtering the blood that comes from the digestive tract, according to WebMD. The liver also plays a role in helping digest food, regulating hormones, metabolizing drugs and making proteins that are important for blood clotting, reveals MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library.

Causes of Liver Disease

Too much alcohol. Years of excessive indulgence in alcohol can lead to Alcohol-Related Liver Disease, or ALRD.   This disease causes the liver to become inflamed and swell, which can lead to scarring, or cirrhosis. Damage from cirrhosis cannot be undone and can be life-threatening, according to MayoClinic.

Exposure to toxins. Environmental pollutants, including pesticides, can cause liver disease and increase the risk of developing liver cancer, WebMD reveals.

High cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. People suffering from obesity typically build up a resistance to insulin, which increases the risk of liver disease.

Opting to eat healthier and exercise more are great resolutions to kick off the new year. But many Americans neglect the importance of liver health. Stopping by an Any Lab Test Now location to get tested for liver disease should be part of your resolution to get healthy this year. The Liver Function Panel at Any Lab Test Now measures the blood levels of seven tests to determine if the liver is functioning properly. The liver function panel test is also recommended for anyone who has been exposed to the hepatitis A, B, or C virus.

Tell-Tale Signs of Liver Disease

There is a long laundry list of signs a person may be suffering from liver disease. Symptoms include:

  • Jaundice — yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal tenderness or swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Dark yellow urine, changes in color and frequency of bowel movements
  • Skin irritation including itchiness, flakiness, changes in skin tone and unexplained bruising

Excessive alcohol consumption has long been associated with liver disease. While too much time at happy hour or holiday toasts can still do a number on your liver, the rate of people being diagnosed with liver disease is increasing as obesity rates continue to climb. By 2030, more than 33 percent of Americans are projected to suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, the Journal of Hepatology reports. Sufferers of NAFLD do not display the symptoms commonly associated with liver damage, like jaundice or abdominal pain. But, most people with NAFLD have high cholesterol, excessive belly fat and high blood pressure.

Take steps to improve liver health.

If your liver function panel reveals you are suffering from liver disease, there is still time to reverse the damage.

Limit alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control recommends women consume no more than one drink per day and men should limit their alcohol intake to two beverages. People suffering from cirrhosis should avoid alcohol altogether.

Exercise and eat right. Exercising and eating a healthy diet will help people at risk for liver disease reduce their cholesterol and get their weight in check. 

Eliminate pesticide consumption. Washing produce and cleaning with all-natural products will help reduce the amount of harmful chemicals people accidentally consume that can damage the liver.

Monitor medicine and supplement intake. Too much acetaminophen can damage the liver. Some herbal supplements, including cascara, chaparral, comfrey, kava, and ephedra, all cause liver damage, WebMD reports.

Drink coffee. Recent research suggests a cup of joe can improve liver function, according to various sources.

Get Tested at ANY LAB TEST NOW

If you regularly attend happy hour after work and are carrying a few extra pounds, your lifestyle might be taking a toll on your liver. Let Any Lab Test Now help you on your path to better health.