Is it ok to take painkillers? How can I cut down on my drinking?
Tip 1: Is it OK to take painkillers?
I’m often asked whether it’s OK for people with a liver condition to take pain medicine. That’s because many medicines are processed by the liver, so people with liver disease are told to be especially careful about what and how much medicine they take.
Luckily, a low dose of paracetamol is perfectly safe for everyone with liver disease. That means you can take 4 to 6 tablets in one day. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin are not the best choice of painkiller for people with liver disease as they can affect the kidneys.
But do take care. Never take more than the recommended dose of any medication, as that will put extra strain on your liver.
Everyone gets pain from time to time. There’s no need to suffer in silence. If you’re experiencing any sort of pain, talk to your doctor.
Tip 2: How can I cut down on my drinking?
If you have a liver condition, the best advice is to stop drinking alcohol altogether. That’s how you can help your liver repair any damage and prevent complications in future.
If your liver damage is caused by alcohol, then it’s really important to quit. For everyone else, every alcoholic drink you don’t have is helping your liver.
Think about cutting down your alcohol in two ways: try to have less alcohol in a day, and try to drink on fewer days of the week. One way you can do this is to choose low or no alcohol beer, or dilute your wine with soda water. Another trick is to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water so you’re only drinking half as much alcohol as you normally would. Set goals so you progressively cut down your alcohol intake.
Be careful as some non-alcoholic wines contain a lot of sugar which may contribute to weight gain. Talk to your doctor if you’re really struggling with cutting down on alcohol. There are medicines available that can help to reduce the craving and support from an addiction counsellor or specialist may be really helpful.
Associate Prof (Dr) Simone Strasser is a Senior Staff Specialist in the AW Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre, and the Australian National Liver Transplant Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney. She has a major clinical and research interest in primary liver cancer, viral hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, advanced liver disease, and liver transplantation.