how to detect liver damage from alcohol & 14 signs
liver damage from alcohol
Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is a disease that damages the liver due to misuse of alcohol. It includes many conditions and many associated symptoms.
Symptoms of ARLD usually don’t occur until the liver has been severely damaged. When this happens, it may have the following symptoms:
● Feeling sick
● Weight Loss
● loss of appetite
● Yellowing of the eyes and skin (
● Swelling of the ankles and abdomen
● nervousness or lethargy
● vomiting blood or passing blood in the stool
This means that alcohol-related liver disease is often diagnosed after the body is tested for another disease.
If you drink a lot of alcohol on a regular or intermittent basis, you should tell your doctor so that he can check the current condition of your liver.
and alcohol-related liver disease
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Alcoholic hepatitis – Symptoms and causes,
Alcohol-Related Liver Disease,)
wine and liver
Aside from the brain, the liver is the most complex part of the human body.
Its functions include:
● Filtering out toxins from the blood
● Helping in the digestion of food
● Controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels
● Helping fight infection and disease
The liver is very strong and has the ability to regenerate itself. Whenever your liver filters out alcohol, some liver cells die. The liver can make new cells, but if you
If continued, your liver’s ability to regenerate itself may decrease, which may result in severe liver damage.
ARLD is widespread in the UK, and the number of people suffering from it has increased over the past few decades due to increasing levels of alcohol abuse.
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stages of alcoholic liver disease
There are three main stages of ARLD, although some of the symptoms of each stage can often appear at the same time. The detailed information about these steps is given below.
alcoholic fatty liver disease (alcohol related fatty liver disease)
Heavy drinking, even if only for a few days, causes a build-up of fat in the liver. This is called alcoholic fatty liver disease, and is the first stage of ARLD.
Fatty liver disease rarely has any symptoms, but it is an important warning sign that your alcohol consumption is taking a toll on your health.
The condition of fatty liver disease is reversible. If you stop drinking for two weeks, your liver can be healthy again.
alcohol-related hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
alcohol-related hepatitis (infectious
not related to ) often leads to a second, more severe stage of ARLD. It occurs when liver tissue becomes inflamed due to alcohol abuse over a long period of time. Sometimes, alcohol-related hepatitis can happen when you drink a lot of alcohol in a short period of time (binge drinking).
If you stop drinking for good, the liver damage caused by mild alcoholic hepatitis can be reversed.
But heavy alcohol-related hepatitis is a serious and life-threatening disease. Unfortunately, some people only become aware of the damage done to their liver when their condition has reached this stage.
Alcoholism is the final stage of liver disease, and occurs when the liver is severely weakened. Cirrhosis is not usually reversible, but if you stop drinking alcohol quickly, liver damage can be halted and your life span extended.
If you have alcohol-related cirrhosis, and you don’t stop drinking, your chances of living for at least another five years drop by 50%.
How is alcohol-related liver disease treated?
There is currently no specific medicine or treatment for ARLD. The main treatment is to stop drinking, preferably for the rest of your life. This protects your liver from further damage, and in some cases may give your liver a chance to repair itself.
If you are dependent on alcohol, it can be very difficult to stop drinking on your own. But, there may be support, advice and treatment available to help you.
In severe cases, where the liver is not functioning well despite complete abstinence from alcohol,
may be required. Your liver transplant will only be considered if you still develop complications of cirrhosis despite having stopped drinking. While waiting for the transplant and for the rest of your life, you will need to abstain from alcohol.
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The mortality rate associated with ARLD has increased significantly over the past few decades, and now in the UK smoking and
Alcohol abuse is one of the most common causes of death.
Complications of ARLD can prove life-threatening. included in
– with internal (variceal) bleeding, build-up of toxins in the brain (encephalopathy), accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and kidney failure
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prevent alcohol-related liver disease
The most effective way to prevent ARLD is to stop drinking alcohol, or abstain from alcohol at least two days a week while staying within the recommended daily limits.
The recommended limits for alcohol intake are:
● Men should regularly drink no more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day.
● Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day.
A unit of alcohol is approximately equal to half a pint of common Yeager or the unit used to measure alcohol in a pub (25 ml).
Even if you’ve been a heavy drinker for many years, reducing or stopping your alcohol consumption can have significant short- and long-term benefits for your liver and your overall health.
In many cases, people with alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) do not show any major symptoms until their liver is severely damaged.
If you do have early symptoms of ARLD, they’re often quite vague, such as:
● loss of appetite
● feeling sick (nausea)
● feeling generally unwell
As your liver becomes more severely damaged, you’ll usually experience more obvious and severe symptoms, such as:
● Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (
● liquid elements (
) in the feet, ankles, and legs due to a buildup of
● Swelling in your abdomen (ascites) due to fluid build-up
● Raised body temperature (fever) and shivering attacks
● Very itchy feeling on the skin
● hair loss
● strangely curved fingers and nails (
● Red spots on palms
● Sudden loss of weight
● Weakness and muscle pain
● Confusion and memory problems, trouble sleeping (
), and changes in your personality due to the build-up of toxins in the brain
● Vomiting of blood and black and tarry stools due to internal bleeding
● Tendency to bleed and bruise suddenly and easily, such as frequent
and bleeding gums.
● Increased sensitivity to alcohol and drugs (as the liver cannot digest them)
When to seek medical advice
There are often no symptoms of ARLD until it is in the advanced stage. if you
, your liver may be damaged even without symptoms.
If you have consumed a lot of alcohol on a regular basis at any point in your life, it is a good idea to see your doctor.
A good way to understand your drinking history and patterns is to try the cage test. A short test consisting of 4 questions:
● Have you ever thought that you should cut down on your alcohol consumption?
● Have people offended you by finding fault with your drinking?
● Have you ever felt guilty about drinking alcohol?
● Have you ever had a “eye-opener,” that is, have you ever had an early-morning drink to get over your hangover and get your spirits up?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of the questions above, you may have an alcohol abuse problem and should see your doctor.
If you have any of the symptoms of advanced alcoholic liver disease, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Read more about it.
Alcoholic related liver disease (ARLD) is caused by excessive drinking. The more you drink over the recommended limit, the greater your risk of developing ARLD.
Alcohol abuse can cause ARLD in two ways:
● drinking large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time (called binge drinking), which can lead to fatty liver disease and alcohol-related hepatitis, which is less common
● Drinking more than the recommended limit of alcohol for many years and because of this
, which are more serious diseases than ARLD.
Evidence suggests that people who regularly drink more than the recommended alcohol limit by the NHS are at highest risk of developing ARLD.
The NHS has advice:
● Men should regularly drink no more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day
● Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day
It is also advised that once you have consumed a heavy amount of alcohol, you should not consume alcohol for 48 hours.
In addition to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, there are other factors that may increase your risk of developing ARLD, including:
● overweight or
● Being a woman (women appear to be more affected by the harmful effects of alcohol than men)
● Pre-existing liver disease, eg
(chronic viral infection of the liver)
● Genetics – alcohol dependence and difficulties with alcohol use are more likely to run in certain families.
Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is often first suspected when investigations for other medical conditions show that the liver has been damaged.
This is because in the early stages it causes few obvious symptoms.
If a doctor suspects you may have ARLD, they’ll usually order blood tests to check how well your liver is working. They may also ask you about your alcohol consumption.
It’s important to be completely honest about how much and how often you drink alcohol. If you under-report the amount of alcohol you drink or you deny drinking any alcohol at all, you may be referred for unnecessary testing. This may delay getting the treatment you need.
used to assess liver
Also known as liver function test. They can detect enzymes in your blood, which are normally only present when your liver has been damaged.
Blood tests can also show whether you have low levels of certain substances, such as a protein called serum albumin, which is made by the liver. A low level of serum albumin means that your liver is not working properly.
A blood test can also look for signs of abnormal blood clotting, which may indicate significant liver damage.
If your symptoms or liver function tests show that you have an advanced form of alcoholic liver disease, either
In this case, you may need further tests to assess the condition of your liver. These are described below.
can also be done. These scans can give detailed information about the pictures of your liver. Some scans can also measure the stiffness of the liver, which is a good indicator of whether your liver is injured.
During a liver biopsy, a fine needle is inserted into your body (usually between your ribs). A small sample of liver cells is sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope.
It is usually carried out under local anaesthetic, as a day case or perhaps with an overnight stay in hospital.
Specialists are able to examine liver biopsy tissue under a microscope to determine the depth of scarring and the cause of the damage to the liver.
An endoscope is a thin, long, flexible tube with a light at one end and a video camera at the other. One
During this, the device is passed down your esophagus (the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) and into your stomach.
Pictures of your esophagus and stomach are shown on an external screen. The doctor will look for swollen veins (varices), which are a sign of cirrhosis.
There are a number of serious complications that can develop if you have alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD).
Some of the main complications associated with this disease are described below.
Portal hypertension and varicose veins
is a common complication of and associated with alcoholism
, which is not very common. This occurs when the blood pressure inside your liver has reached a potentially serious level.
When the liver is severely scarred, it becomes difficult for blood to move around. This causes an increase in blood pressure.
The blood also has to find a new way to return to your heart. It does this by opening new blood vessels, usually along your stomach or esophagus (the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach). These new blood vessels are known as varices.
If the blood pressure rises to a certain level, it becomes too high and it can become difficult for the varicose veins to cope, causing the varicose walls to separate and bleed.
This can cause prolonged bleeding, which can lead to anemia (a condition where the body does not have enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells).
Alternatively, bleeding can be very quick and massive, causing you to vomit blood and your stools to be very black or tar-like.
treatment of ruptured varicose veins
(a narrow tube with a camera at the end that is passed into the abdomen to locate varicose veins). A smaller band can then be used to close the base of the varices.
If you have portal hypertension, fluid can build up in your abdomen and around your intestines. This fluid is called ascites.
Initially it can be treated with water pills (diuretics). If the problem progresses, several liters of fluid may build up and have to be drained. This is a procedure known as paracentesis and involves a long thin tube being inserted through the skin into the fluid after giving a local anaesthetic.
One of the problems associated with the development of ascites is infection in the fluid (spontaneous bacteria
) involves the risk of This is a potentially very serious complication and increases the risk of kidney failure and death.
One of the liver’s most important functions is to remove toxins from your blood. If your liver is unable to do this because of hepatitis or cirrhosis, the level of toxins in your blood builds up. Liver damage leading to a high level of toxins in the blood is known as hepatic encephalopathy.
Symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy include:
● muscle stiffness
● muscle tremors
● Difficulty speaking
● In very severe cases,
Patients with hepatic encephalopathy may require hospitalization. In the hospital, bodily functions are supported while medication is given to remove toxins from the blood.
Heavy drinking over many years can damage the liver and
There is an increased risk of having
Liver cancer rates in the UK over the past few decades
has grown rapidly as a result of rising levels of
3-5% of people will succumb to liver cancer every year.
Successful treatment of alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) often depends on whether the patient is willing to stop drinking and make lifestyle changes.
One link to the treatment of alcoholic liver disease is abstinence from alcohol. This is called the state of abstinence. The need for abstinence can be gauged by looking at the stage of your disease.
If you have fatty liver disease, giving up alcohol for at least two weeks can reverse liver damage.
if you have a more severe form of ARLD – such as alcohol-related
So you are advised to exercise self-control throughout your life. This is because giving up alcohol is the only way to prevent further damage to your liver and may even prevent you from dying from liver disease.
Quitting alcohol is not easy, especially because an estimated 70% of people with ARLD also have an alcohol dependence problem. However, if you have alcohol-related cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis and cannot stop drinking alcohol, no medical or surgical treatment can prevent liver damage.
Symptoms after quitting alcohol (withdrawal symptoms)
If you have been abstinent from alcohol, you may have been put off by experiencing withdrawal symptoms. These will be at their worst for the first 48 hours, but should start to improve as your body gets used to being without alcohol. This process usually takes three to seven days since you last drank.
Many people who abstain from alcohol initially experience sleep disturbances, but in most cases their sleep patterns return to normal within a month.
In some cases, you may be advised to reduce your alcohol intake gradually and in a planned way to avoid withdrawal problems. You may need to take medication called benzodiazepines and psychological therapy such as
Counseling may be offered, which can help you with the process of giving up drinking.
Some people need to stay in hospital or a specialist rehabilitation clinic during the early stages of the process of giving up alcohol, so that their progress can be closely monitored.
If you are living at home, visit a nurse or other health professional regularly.
Once you quit drinking, you may need treatment to make sure you don’t start drinking again.
Psychological therapy is usually the first treatment recommended. This involves talking with a therapist about your feelings and thoughts, as well as how they affect your behavior and well-being.
If psychological therapy alone doesn’t work, you may also need medication to help you quit drinking, such as acamprosate, naltrexone or disulfiram.
For more information about available treatments click here
Self help group
For many people who are dependent on alcohol, participating in self-help groups has been found to help them quit. The most well-known group is Alcoholics Anonymous, but there are many other groups that can help.
diet and nutrition
in patients with ARLD
Mangoes are therefore important for you to eat a balanced diet to get all the nutrients you need.
Avoiding salty foods and not using salt in the foods you eat can reduce your risk of swelling in your legs, feet and abdomen, which is caused by fluid building up there.
Damage to your liver may also mean that it is unable to store glycogen, a carbohydrate that provides short-term energy. When this happens, the body uses its own muscle tissue to provide energy between meals, resulting in muscle fatigue and weakness. Therefore, you may need more energy and protein in your diet.
Eating something nutritious between meals can help you get the calories and protein you need. Three or four smaller meals a day may be better for your health than one or two big meals.
Your doctor can advise you on the right diet or, in some cases, refer you to a dietitian.
In the most severe cases of malnutrition, nutrients may need to be given through a feeding tube through the nose into the stomach.
medicine for symptoms
The use of medication to treat ARLD is controversial. Many experts have argued that the evidence for its effectiveness is limited.
For patients with severe alcohol-related hepatitis, hospital treatment may be necessary. To reduce inflammation of the liver in patients with this condition
Or the specific treatment of pentoxifylline may be used. Nutritional support (see above) is also an important part of treatment in these cases.
Other drugs used to treat liver damage include anabolic steroids (a more potent form of steroid medication) and propylthiouracil (a type of drug that originally
designed to treat ) but there is a lack of good evidence to prove that they help. They are no longer used for severe alcohol-associated hepatitis.
In the most severe cases of alcohol-related liver disease, the liver loses its ability to function, leading to liver failure.
There is currently only one way to cure irreversible liver damage.
If you develop progressive liver damage despite abstinence from alcohol, you are well prepared to undergo this type of operation, and if you resolve not to drink alcohol for the rest of your life, Liver transplant may be considered.