What is Alcohol Liver Disease?
- Drinking alcohol consistently in moderate amounts over 10 to 20 years can cause alcohol liver disease. There are 3 types of liver conditions:
- Fatty liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis
Accumulation of fat within liver in most people who drink regularly. Fatty liver usually causes no symptoms and is completely reversible if one stops drinking alcohol. However in some who continue to drink this can progress into hepatitis.
It simple means inflammation of the liver which can be mild or severe hepatitis. In some cases this can lead to liver failure associated with clotting problems, bleeding, confusion,coma and can be fatal. Patients usually require admission and monitoring in hospital with complete abstinence from alcohol, proper nutrition along with supportive medical treatment.
Cirrhosis means scarring of liver, where by normal liver tissue is replaced by scarred tissue(fibrosis). The liver becomes shrunken. By stopping drinking you can prevent further damage to your liver and reduce risk of complications and death.
Possible complications of Alcoholic Cirrhosis are:
- Jaundice( yellow discolouration of eyes),
- Ascites(swollen belly due to water retention),
- Hepatic encephalopathy (confusion),
- vomiting of blood from varices (swollen internal veins)
- Liver cancer
- Hepatorenal syndrome: (poor kidney function due to liver disease)
- Malnutrition(poor intake of vitamins, minerals, protein from loss of appetite)
Most patients will require liver transplantation if there is no improvement in liver function after a period of abstinence from alcohol.
How to prevent alcoholic liver disease?
If you follow the recommended safe limits of alcohol consumption, you are unlikely to develop liver disease due to alcohol.
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