Alcoholic liver disease is damage to the liver and its function due to alcohol abuse.
Alcoholic liver disease usually occurs after years of excessive drinking. The longer the alcohol use and the more alcohol that was consumed, the greater the likelihood of developing liver disease.
Acute alcoholic hepatitis can result from binge drinking. It may be life-threatening if severe.
People who drink excessively can become malnourished because of the empty calories from alcohol, reduced appetite, and poor absorption (malabsorption) of nutrients in the intestines. Malnutrition contributes to liver disease.
Other factors that contribute to the development of alcoholic liver disease:
Alcoholic liver disease does not affect all heavy drinkers. Women may be more susceptible than men. It is not necessary to get drunk for the disease to develop.
Symptoms vary based on the severity of the disease. They are usually worse after a recent period of heavy drinking. Disease changes start in the liver as inflammation (hepatitis) and lead to fatty liver and cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the final phase of alcoholic liver disease.
Symptoms may not be present until the disease is advanced, and may include:
Other symptoms that can occur with this disease:
Tests to rule out other diseases include:
The most important part of treatment is to stop using alcohol completely. If liver cirrhosis has not yet occurred, the liver can heal if you stop drinking alcohol.
An alcohol rehabilitation program or counseling may be necessary to break the alcohol addiction. Vitamins, especially B-complex and folic acid, can help reverse malnutrition.
If cirrhosis develops, you will need to manage the complications of cirrhosis. You may need a liver transplant.
You can often ease the stress of illness by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems.
Continued excessive drinking can shorten your lifespan. The outcome will likely be poor if you keep drinking.
Call your health care provider if:
Discuss your alcohol intake with your doctor. The doctor can counsel you about how much alcohol is safe to drink for your situation.
Liver disease due to alcohol; Cirrhosis or hepatitis - alcoholic; Laennec's cirrhosis