We will be defined with concepts
Hepatoprotectors are a large group of drugs that restore the liver if it has already begun to break down. “In reserve” the liver is not possible to protect. It is like a finger that has not yet been hit with milk: as long as there is no injury, it will never occur to anyone to bandage it. The very word “hepatoprotectors” also misleads us: hepar in Latin means “liver”, protecto means “protect”.
WHO includes hepatoprotectors in the group of drugs intended “for the treatment of diseases of the liver and biliary tract.” Abroad, they are called cytoprotectors – agents that restore cells after the cytotoxic (destructive) action of harmful substances.
Now on the shelves of Russian pharmacies are more than 700 products of this group. Among them are natural and artificial, drugs and dietary supplements.
Most hepatoprotectors contain essential phospholipids (a component of the cell wall), ursodeoxycholic acid (extract from bear bile), milk thistle (herb of the Astrov family) or ademetionine (modified amino acid). Each of these ingredients has both pros and cons.
A healthy liver works great without the help of hepatoprotectors. This is the only organ that regenerates, i.e. recovers losses – the destroyed cells – independently.
Any intrusion into the work of a normal liver will, at best, pass unnoticed, and at worst, add to her work. In this case, the body itself will have to neutralize the dangerous ingredients “helpers” that are in the composition of any medication.
To understand that the liver fails is very difficult. She herself does not give a warning signal until the last moment.
Many stories are known when a patient accidentally learned about the critical state of an organ. It is possible to come to the alarming conclusions in a different way – speculative, assessing the scale of the presence in the life of the main factors damaging the liver.
* Alcohol. If a man regularly drinks more than 40 grams of pure ethanol per day (female limit is 20 grams), the liver is guaranteed to face destruction. It’s easy to calculate the norm: we take the volume drunk, multiply it by the fortress and divide by 100. If we drank 100 grams of vodka with a strength of 40%, then we got the 40 grams of pure ethanol “loaded”.
For comparison – 100 grams of wine with 10% strength contains 10 grams of pure ethanol. If the dose is exceeded only once and not practiced a violation of the regime for several months, the liver will recover itself.
This will take time for her, but the hepatoprotectors will not speed up the process.
* Fats. The liver “will not notice” 150 grams of fat per day. It takes into account not only butter spread on bread, lard and butter cream on the cake, which we see with our own eyes, but also hidden enemies, artificial fats and their vegetable substitutes – soybean, coconut and palm oil.
With blood, they enter the liver and literally queue up for processing there. The liver gets tired quickly: its cells break down and allow unprocessed fats into the body. Theoretically, it can be assumed that a person receives an excess of fat, if, without limitation, allows himself baking, pork, lamb and other fatty foods.
But a reliable confirmation of the diagnosis will give a blood test for cholesterol. Especially rich reserves of fat accumulated in the liver are visible on ultrasound.
Alas, hepatoprotectors are not a panacea here, unless the diet is changed in time in favor of a healthier one.
* Medication. Antibiotics, antifungal, antiparasitic, some antiviral – all means that kill germs are dangerous to the liver. The next group of drugs is the statins that reduce cholesterol levels.
They are often prescribed for elderly people and patients with vascular problems. It’s nice that the painkillers and antipyretic almost do not harm the liver!
To drink or not to drink
To check whether the liver needs treatment, you can use a biochemical blood test, or rather two indicators – ALT and AST. When they are normal, you can forget about hepatoprotectors. Exceeded no more than twice?
The liver began to break down. Well, if three times – the process is in full swing. Go to the doctor, who will clarify the diagnosis and prescribe the right medicine.
It will also be a hepatoprotector, but not random, but targeted.
But, let’s say you are going on vacation and there is no time left for a visit to the doctor, or a specialist you trust himself went to rest and will not return soon, but you do not want to go to another. In this case, during the month you can drink the hepatoprotector from the category of treating agents (not dietary supplements!). Then again take a blood test and, if the indicators returned to normal, cancel the reception of the hepatoprotector.
Then wait another month and do the test again. The result is good – forget about the problem, bad – run to the doctor.
When self-treatment is delayed, the indicators periodically return to normal, showing a temporary improvement. In essence, the following happens: the ruined parts of the liver become overgrown with scars similar to tendons.
The process can continue until all the “native” liver tissue becomes fibrous – cicatricial. And there and before cirrhosis at hand.
If you still decide to postpone the visit to the doctor, choose hepatoprotectors with knowledge of the matter. First, give preference to drugs because they have been thoroughly tested.
The effectiveness of drugs is necessarily proven by research, tests, experiments. In contrast, dietary supplements do not require confirmation of effectiveness. Carefully read the instructions for use: the hepatoprotector belonging to one group or another must be indicated in the description.
Secondly, pay attention to the dosage of the main active ingredient: it may be insufficient or excessive! For example, the dosage of essential phospholipids should not be below 4.5 mg.
Thistle concentrations are also often not enough to get a positive effect. But the amino acid modified ademethionine is used for severe damage to the liver – doctors prefer to inject it intravenously.
For lung problems, this serious drug is useless.
Myths about the sick liver
The liver does not give SOS signals, but we mistakenly take many unpleasant symptoms for its “complaints”. What kind?
- Pain and heaviness. There are no nerve endings in the liver, so it simply cannot hurt. The need for treatment is established on the basis of tests. Unpleasant sensations in the right hypochondrium can go from the intestines, gallbladder, kidney, muscles and other organs. It will help to find out the reason for discomfort, complete diagnosis.
- Yellow skin and mucous membranes. This symptom indicates an increase in blood levels of bilirubin – the bile pigment. Its norm is 1.7–8.5 µmol / l. Skin color changes when the indicator is over 40-50. Surely, before the yellowness appears, you will get many other evidence of liver disease.
- Itching, rash. Itching occurs after more than 70 µmol / l bilirubin enters the blood. Such reactions occur only in severe hepatitis. By the time scabies appears, you will definitely know about your illness. The algorithm is simple: first, yellow, and then itching. If you itch, but do not turn yellow, the problem is not in the liver.
- Nausea and vomiting. Happen only with hepatitis A, which develops on the principle of intestinal poisoning. Other disorders in the liver do not give such symptoms. It is important to remember that hepatitis A has no consequences: the person has recovered and has forgotten about the disease and hepatoprotectors. If symptoms persist (nausea after eating fat), check the condition of other organs. Perhaps not okay gallbladder.