Alcoholic Liver Disease

Introduction

The liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself. Each time your liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. The liver can develop new cells, but prolonged alcohol misuse (drinking too much) over many years can reduce its ability to regenerate. This can result in serious and permanent damage to your liver. Alcohol can damage or destroy liver cells.

The liver breaks down alcohol so it can be removed from your body. Your liver can become injured or seriously damaged if you drink more alcohol than it can process.

Type of diseases

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.

Treatment

There's currently no specific medical treatment for “alcohol related liver diseases. The main treatment is to stop drinking, preferably for the rest of your life. This reduces the risk of further damage to your liver and gives it the best chance of recovering.

You'll only be considered for a liver transplant if you've developed complications of cirrhosis, despite having stopped drinking. All liver transplant units require a person to not drink alcohol while awaiting the transplant, and for the rest of their life.

Complications

Alcohol is now one of the most common causes of death, along with smoking and high blood pressure.

Life-threatening complications of ARLD include:

  •   internal (variceal) bleeding
  •   build-up of toxins in the brain (encephalopathy)
  •   fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites) with associated kidney failure
Prevention

The most effective way is to stop drinking alcohol.

Shalby Hospitals,
Opposite Karnavati Club,
SG Road, Ahmedabad-380015,
Gujarat, India.

+91 88660 20505

contact@dravinashtank.in



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