Alcohol-related Liver Disease
Alcohol-related liver disease is a serious health condition common among people who consume huge amounts of alcohol. Drinking huge volumes of alcohol can result in liver damage. When this happens, fat will begin to build up in the liver. This, thus, will cause severe inflammation and scarring.
The liver is one of the most important and complex organs in our body, with more than 500 functions. From regulating blood sugar and filtering our blood to secreting hormones and proteins, the liver plays an important role in our overall well-being. So, if the liver is damaged, the whole body will be affected.
According to a survey from the CDC, over 24,110 died as a result of the condition in 2014. A 2015 study shows that more than 20% of liver transplants are linked to alcohol liver diseases.
Categories of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
Alcoholic liver disease is categorized into stages. Below is an overview of the three stages of the condition.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease
This is the first stage of the condition. It is characterized by the buildup of fat in the liver. The condition is curable at this stage, but one has to stop drinking alcohol.
Acute alcoholic hepatitis
Acute alcoholic hepatitis is the second stage of the condition. At this stage, the liver will be swollen. If prompt action is taken, the damage to the liver may be reversed. If left untreated, the condition will become more severe and cause liver failure.
This is the final stage of the condition. At this point, the damage to the liver cannot be reversed. The condition will gradually deteriorate and cause liver failure.
Symptoms of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
Below are some of the main symptoms of alcoholic liver disease.
- Mood swings
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increase in thirst
- Unusual agitation
- Red hands and feet
- Bleeding gums
- Loss of appetite
- Presence of blood in stools and vomit
- Weakness of muscles
- Itchy skin
- Swelling in the abdomen and legs
- Darkening or lightening of the skin
Diagnosis of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
To determine if you have alcoholic liver disease, your doctor may conduct the following tests.
Complete blood count
This is a blood test that provides information on the health of a patient. It can detect health conditions, like alcoholic liver disease.
Liver function test
This is a blood test that measures the amount of protein, enzymes, and a few other substances produced by the liver.
Here a sample of the liver tissue is collected and tested to see if it is damaged.
How to treat Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
A doctor may recommend the following if a patient is diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease.
Health experts usually prescribe pentoxifylline to help address the inflammation associated with the condition. Below are a few other medications that may help treat the condition.
- Drugs that target the inflammation pathway
A liver transplant is only recommended when the liver is severely damaged and isn’t functioning at all. To qualify for the transplant, one has to avoid alcohol for 6 months and be healthy enough to undergo a surgical procedure.
Alcoholic rehabilitation programs
These programs are geared towards helping patients stop drinking, especially if they can’t stop drinking on their own.
Vitamin A supplements and Multivitamins may be prescribed to prevent complications like malnutrition and anemia.
Below are a few lifestyle changes that your doctor may recommend.
- Quit smoking
- Lose weight
- Take multivitamins daily
- Avoid alcohol
How to manage Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
Here are some natural remedies that can help address alcoholic liver disease. Make sure you consult your doctor before trying any of them.
Ginseng is great for addressing alcoholic liver disease, as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that consuming ginseng may help protect against liver damage caused by alcohol and toxins.
As can be seen in this study, licorice has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect the liver.
Studies have shown that turmeric is loaded with antioxidants. What’s more, it has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it perfect for addressing liver-related conditions.
- What increases the risk of one developing Alcohol-related liver disease? Studies suggest that people who drink large amounts of alcohol within a short period and those who have been drinking past the recommended limit of alcohol for years are more likely to have the condition.
- When should I consult a doctor? You should seek prompt medical attention if you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with the condition.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!