Dr. Maliah Ahmad Provides Tips for Liver Disease Prevention
Dr. Maliah Ahmad, Director of Liver Disease Services at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, explains how individuals can prevent getting hepatitis C and liver disease, as well as how to best treat these diseases.
"Welcome back to Life and Living. We all know that limiting our alcohol intake is good for our liver, but there are many other behavioral changes that we need to make to be sure our livers stay healthy throughout our lifetime. Joining me in the studio right now is Doctor Maliha Ahmad, Director of Liver Disease Services at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center. Welcome to the program. Thanks Joanna. So the liver is not the sexiest of the organs, right? Not quite. [laughter] Not something that we like to talk about all the time. But intriguing. [laughter] And important? And important. What is the function of the liver? So the liver has a whole variety of functions. It's in charge of metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism. It's in charge of protein synthesis. It's in ch... Those are things that the average viewer might not understand. Sure. So, in layman's terms, what is it doing in our body? What is it breaking down in our body? It's helping detoxify in our body. So getting rid of toxins that need to get excreted from the body, and allowing the body to help digest other chemicals. What happens to the body when the liver stops functioning the way that it should? So over time, you get inflammation. And with inflammation, you get damage. And with damage, you get cirrhosis. Where you have... Is cirrhosis the most common liver disease? So cirrhosis is an end stage complication of chronic inflammation. So whether that's coming from chronic hepatitis C, fatty liver disease, chronic hepatitis B, or genetic variations. That can be the end term. What are the most common liver diseases? So the most common liver disease, as we know, alcohol is one of them. Chronic hepatitis C, these days, has a lot of buzz. The world of liver is really transforming wonderfully, over the last several years. And there's a lot of new options for treatment for patients. And chronic hepatitis C is one of the disease processes which is a virus, contracted by unsafe sex practices, tattoos, people that come from endemic regions. Did you tattoos? Tattoos. People can contract hepatitis C from getting a tattoo. Explain how. Absolutely. From the syringe itself. You always want to make sure that you're changing the needle and the ink. The needle seems obvious, right? Right. And we would hope and assume that most tattoo parlors are using a new needle for every person who comes in. But the ink? Right. They need to change the ink? Explain that. Well the needle is constantly being dipped into the ink, and then into the location of the tattoo. So it's contamination. So it's important to make sure that that ink is brand new also..."