Drug-Induced Liver Injury: Medications and Substances that Affect Liver Function

The liver, one of the most vital organs in your body, responsible for numerous essential functions, such as detoxification, metabolism, and nutrient storage, plays a crucial role in keeping you healthy. Any disruption in its effective functioning may lead to a range of clinical adversities with a wide spectrum of severity.

Apart from clinical and environmental factors, certain medications and substances can also have a detrimental impact on your liver's function. In this blog post, we will explore the about the drug-induced liver injury (DILI) and highlight some common culprits that can harm the liver health. 

DILI can be classified into two main categories: intrinsic and idiosyncratic.

• Intrinsic DILI: This type occurs due to the inherent toxic properties of a drug, typically related to dose-dependent reactions. Factors such as excessive intake or prolonged usage of drugs like acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can lead to liver damage.

• Idiosyncratic DILI: Idiosyncratic reactions are unpredictable and occur in a small subset of individuals who have a genetic predisposition or immune system susceptibility. These reactions are not related to dose and can occur even with normal therapeutic use of a medication.

Medications That Can Cause Liver Injury

When it comes to our health, we often rely on medications to alleviate symptoms and treat various conditions. However, it's important to be aware that certain medications can potentially cause liver injury leading to severe consequences.

One category of drugs known for their potential hepatotoxicity are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These commonly used pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium may lead to liver damage if taken in high doses or over long periods of time.

Another group of medications that can affect liver function are statins. While these cholesterol-lowering drugs are generally safe, they have been associated with rare cases of drug-induced hepatotoxicity.

Antibiotics such as amoxicillin and tetracycline have also been linked to liver injury, particularly when used improperly or in excessive doses. It's crucial to follow the prescribed dosage and duration when taking antibiotics.

In addition, herbal supplements and dietary products can pose a risk to liver health. Substances like kava root extract and green tea extract have been reported to cause hepatic injury in some individuals.

Substances That Can Cause Liver Injury

Besides medications, certain substances can also have a adverse impact on liver function. These include:

Alcohol is perhaps the most well-known substance that can cause liver injury. Excessive and chronic alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and even liver failure.

Another substance that poses a risk to the liver is illicit drugs. Drugs such as cocaine and heroin not only wreak havoc on the body but can also damage the liver over time. Injection drug use further increases this risk due to potential exposure to bloodborne viruses like hepatitis B or C.

Chemicals found in household products and industrial settings can also be harmful to the liver if ingested or inhaled excessively. These include cleaning agents, paint thinners, pesticides, solvents, and certain metals such as arsenic or mercury.

Understanding which substances have an adverse effect on your liver is vital in maintaining good overall health. It's crucial for individuals who consume alcohol or use substances recreationally to be aware of their potential effects on the liver. Remember, while many medications offer significant benefits for managing various ailments, being informed about potential risks is equally important. 

How to Reduce the Risk of Drug-Induced Liver Injury

Reducing the risk of drug-induced liver injury is crucial for maintaining optimal liver function. Here are some important steps you can take to protect your liver health:

1. Consult with a healthcare professional: Always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new medication or supplement. They can provide valuable insights into potential risks and advise on alternative options if necessary.

2. Follow recommended dosage guidelines: Stick to the prescribed dosage and frequency of medications as instructed by your healthcare provider. Taking more than the recommended amount can put unnecessary strain on your liver.

3. Be aware of potential interactions: Some medications, when taken together, can increase the risk of liver injury. Inform your healthcare provider about all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements you are taking to ensure there are no harmful interactions.

4. Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol intake is a known contributor to liver damage. It is advisable to limit alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether, especially if you are taking medications that can affect liver function.

5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats supports overall liver health. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight also play an essential role in reducing the risk of drug-induced liver injury.


It is important to be aware of the medications and substances that can potentially cause liver injury. Drug-induced liver injury can have serious consequences and it is crucial to take steps to minimize the risk.

Regular monitoring of liver function through liver function tests can help detect any abnormalities early on. It is also essential to follow proper dosage instructions and not exceed recommended limits when taking medications or consuming substances known to affect liver function.

If you experience any symptoms such as jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, or fatigue while taking a medication or after consuming a substance, it is vital to seek medical attention promptly. Your healthcare provider will be able to assess your symptoms and determine if further action needs to be taken.

Remember that everyone's body reacts differently to medications and substances, so what may cause liver injury in one person may not have the same effect on another. By being informed about potential risks and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can make more informed decisions regarding your health.

By being proactive in safeguarding your liver health through informed decision-making and responsible medication use will help minimize the risk of drug-induced Liver Injury!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Filter out the noise and nurture your inbox with health and wellness advice that's inclusive and rooted in medical expertise.

Subscribe Now   

Medtalks is India's fastest growing Healthcare Learning and Patient Education Platform designed and developed to help doctors and other medical professionals to cater educational and training needs and to discover, discuss and learn the latest and best practices across 100+ medical specialties. Also find India Healthcare Latest Health News & Updates on the India Healthcare at Medtalks