Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

The most common cause of severe long-term liver disease in developed countries is excessive alcohol consumption. More men than women have alcohol related liver disease because more men drink heavily. However, women are more susceptible to liver damage from alcohol because of differences in the way that men and women metabolize alcohol. regular excessive alcohol consumption is more likely to cause damage to the liver than sporadic heavy drinking. The longer excessive alcohol consumption continues, the greater the likelihood of developing liver disease. Long-term alcohol-related liver disease is known to increase the risk of developing liver cancer.

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What are the types?
Alcohol may cause three types of liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Typically, these conditions occur in sequence, but this is not always the case. Over a number of years, most heavy drinkers develop a fatty liver, in which fat globules develop within liver cells. If alcohol consumption continues, hepatitis or inflammation of the liver develops. with continued drinking, cirrhosis develops. In this condition, liver cells that are damage by alcohol are replaced by fibrous scar tissue. If cirrhosis has developed, liver damage is irreversible. it is not known why some heavy drinkers go on to develop hepatitis of cirrhosis while others do not.

What are the symptoms?
In many cases, fatty liver does not cause symptoms and often remains undiagnosed. however, in about 1 in 3 affected people, the liver becomes enlarged, which may lead to discomfort in the right upper abdomen.

Alcoholic hepatitis also may knot produce symptoms, but after about 10 years of heavy drinking in men and sooner in women, the first symptoms may usually develop. these may include:

· Nausea and occasional vomiting.
· Discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen.
· Weight loss.
· Fever.
· Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
· Swollen abdomen

Cirrhosis may often cause no symptoms for number of years or only mild symptoms, including:

· Poor appetite and weight loss.
· Nausea.
· Muscle wasting.

in some cases, severe cirrhosis may lead to a serious condition in which there is bleeding Into the digestive tract from abnormal blood vessels that develop in the wall of the esophagus. Severe alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis can lead to liver failure, in which may result in coma and death.

How is it diagnosed?
A history of heavy alcohol consumption is essential for the diagnosis of alcohol-related liver disease. it is important that you be honest and tell your doctor exactly how much you drink. However, many people who drink heavily are reluctant to do this.

Your doctor may arrange for blood test to evaluate your liver function. You may also have a liver biopsy, a procedure in which a hollow needle is inserted into the liver to obtain a sample of liver tissue. The sample is then examined under a microscope to look for cell abnormalities.

What is the treatment?
People with alcohol related disease must stop drinking completely and forever. Many people need professional help to achieve. If drinking continues, the disease will probably progress and may be fatal. if drinking stops, the prognosis is likely to improve.

Fatty liver often disappears after 3-6 months of abstinence of alcohol. some people with alcoholic hepatitis who stop drinking recover completely. However, damage to the liver is irreversible, and the condition progresses to cirrhosis. severe alcoholic cirrhosis can cause a number of serious complications, which in some cases may be fatal. about half of all people who have cirrhosis die from liver failure within 5 years. More than 1 in 10 people with cirrhosis go on to develop liver cancer. People with alcohol-related liver disease who have no other serious health problems and have stopped drinking may be candidates for a liver transplant.

Many of the symptoms and some of the complications of alcohol-related liver disease can be treated with some success. For example, swelling of the abdomen, which results from fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity, may be decreased by diuretic drugs and a diet that is low in salt. nausea can frequently be relieved by antiemetic drugs.

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Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.


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