There are three main types of alcohol-related liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease: Drinking a large amount of alcohol, even for just a few days, can lead to a build-up of fats in the liver. This is called alcoholic fatty liver disease, and is the first stage of ARLD.
Fatty liver disease rarely causes any symptoms, but it's an important warning sign that you're drinking at a harmful level.
Fatty liver disease is reversible. If you stop drinking alcohol for two weeks, your liver should return to normal.
Alcoholic hepatitis: Alcoholic hepatitis – which is unrelated to infectious hepatitis – is a potentially serious condition that can be caused by alcohol misuse over a longer period. When this develops, it may be the first time a person is aware they're damaging their liver through alcohol.
Less commonly, alcoholic hepatitis can occur if you drink a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time (binge drinking).
The liver damage associated with mild alcoholic hepatitis is usually reversible if you stop drinking permanently.
Severe alcoholic hepatitis, however, is a serious and life-threatening illness.
Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis is a stage where the liver has become significantly scarred. Even at this stage, there may not be any obvious symptoms.
It's generally not reversible, but stopping drinking alcohol immediately can prevent further damage and significantly increase your life expectancy.