Medication and your liver

Chronic medication can have an impact on the wellbeing of your liver. Follow these tips to make sure you keep yours healthy.Your liver is a real multitasker – it is involved in everything from metabolism to weight management to helping you digest your food. But one of the most important functions of your liver is to remove toxins from your body. These toxins come from the food you eat, the drinks you drink and from the air you breathe. They also come from certain medications and supplements that you may take.

How medication effects your liver

After you swallow medication, it is taken up by your stomach and transported to your liver. Your liver breaks the medication down and sends it off to your heart which pumps it out to the rest of your body. While medication is being broken down in your liver, different toxins are produced. Usually, the liver can handle these and makes sure it gets rid of them. But taking certain types of medications, too many medications, or taking medication at the same time as alcohol causes your liver to overload. This can damage the liver cells and increase your chance of liver disease.

Not all medications are harmful!

Before a medication can be sold, a number of tests are done on it to make sure it will not cause any damage to your liver (or anything else!). It is for this reason that the majority of medications available are very safe and will not harm your liver. However, there are some types of medication that contain more toxins than others (e.g. paracetamol). This is why it is also so important to follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to both prescription and over the counter medication. More is not better!

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Keeping your liver healthy while taking medications

  • Know your medications. Write a list of every medication you take, including vitamins and minerals and take it with you when you visit a doctor or pharmacy. Some medications can interfere with others, causing liver damage.
  • The fewer medications, pills and supplements you take the better. (But don’t stop taking your chronic meds without talking to your doctor!)
  • When using over-the-counter medications, always read the instructions carefully. Avoid using the maximum allowed dose.
  • Always check ingredients when taking more than one type of medication, especially cough and cold remedies. You could risk an accidental overdose if there are overlapping ingredients.
  • Always be honest with your doctor about the state of your health and what medications you take.

Other ways to show your liver the respect it deserves

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of liver disease.
  2. Avoid fad diets and miracle detox cures. There is no scientific evidence to support these and they often do more harm than good.
  3. Eat a balanced diet, with as much fresh produce as you can handle.
  4. Drink alcohol in moderation (if at all), and never drink alcohol with your medication
  5. Stop smoking. Smoking is closely related to liver cancer, not to mention harmful to the rest of you too!

Prevention is always better than cure, so take care of your liver, and it will take care of you!