Drug- Induced Liver Injury
Liver Working Overtime
The liver functions to help our body break down certain medications from our blood, before flushing them out through our urine or bile. While our liver is doing its job to process our blood, abnormal ingestion of drugs harmful to the liver (hepatotoxic drugs) can affect the function of a healthy liver. Toxicity usually occurs after taking the meds for several weeks, or from an overdose of them. Taking multiple drugs at once may also risk our liver to get inflamed and subsequently damaged. According to WHO, liver diseases have caused around 2,500 deaths in Malaysia per year, with 9.7% of it involves drug-induced hepatitis.
The FDA has listed over 900 drugs as harmful to the liver. Anti-tuberculosis drugs (especially isoniazid and rifampicin) and herbal medications are found to be the most common culprits among Asian countries, whereas paracetamol is found to be the most responsible in causing liver inflammation among Western people, damaging the liver when taken more than the recommended dose. These diseases, though come with common symptoms such as fever, diarrhoea and headaches, can only be confirmed through blood tests. Toxic liver can be mild, but if it goes on longer, it could lead to liver failure or even death.
Therefore, in way to reduce harms that come with abusing the meds, prevention is the key. It is crucial to pay attention to the doctor’s instruction, and religiously follow the doses written on the labels. Avoid using these meds with alcohol or carbonated drinks. Never come up with your own mix of different meds without the doctor’s consent, no matter who gave you the tips or even if it had worked on someone before, as our bodies function differently. The same goes to the unproven claims that herbs and spices like willow bark, turmeric, clovers, and many others are as effective as the modern medicines. Life is not something you should be experimenting with.
Whenever in doubt, seek for professional medical advice first. And if you experience any of the symptoms, consult your doctors immediately. Remember to come prepared with the list of all medications (and the so-called natural alternatives) that you took.