Simply put, alcohol liver disease is the damage caused to the liver due to alcohol abuse. It can inflame the liver and cause several other health problems. The longer you consume alcohol, the higher are your chances of getting this disease. Sometimes, you do not have to be drunk in order to get the disease since you can get it through your family members. Here is some information on the alcoholic liver disease and its symptoms.
Liver diseases that occur due to the consumption of alcohols is termed as alcoholic liver diseases. It causes damage to the liver and effects over the liver normal functions.
Alcoholic liver disease hits the person after the regular consumption of alcohol for over years. Alcohol leads to the inflammation in the liver. With the time cirrhosis can occur, which is the last stage of the alcoholic liver disease.
Alcoholic liver disease don’t attack every person who drinks heavily, it rely on the person drinking habits. The chances depend on how long you have been drinking and the more amount that you are drinking. This disease is a common problem in families and women are also more likely to get this problem than men.
Symptoms of alcoholic liver disease
Depending up on the severity symptoms varies. One may not find the symptoms in the early stage but they become worse after a period of time of heavy drinking.
You may find some of the early symptoms of alcoholic liver diseases as mentioned below.
- Feeling sick or nausea
- Feeling normally not well
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
If the liver is turning more severe with the disease, then you will observe some of the serious symptoms.
Symptoms that you find in the advanced stage includes
- Condition of jaundice, where your skin turns yellow and eyes shifts white in color.
- Due to the formation of fluid you may find the swelling in the legs, feet and ankles. This condition is also termed as oedema.
- With the formation of fluid named ‘ascites’ in the stomach, it leads to abdominal swelling.
- Fever with high temperature and shivering.
- Skin becomes dry and itchy.
- You will observe loss of hair fall.
- There is curving in the finger tips fingertips unintentionally.
- Loss of weight
- Redness in palms
- Muscle wasting and weakness
- Vomiting in an abnormal way with blood and black and due to the internal bleeding tarry stools may exist.
- Your body feels sensitive towards alcohols and medicines because liver is not in the stage of processing.
- Memory problems along with the stage of confusion. Insomnia – sleeping problems. The formation of toxins in the brain causes change in the personality.
- You may notice frequent bleedings, such as gums bleeding and nose bleedings.
Exams and tests
The tests included for alcoholic liver diseases are
- Complete blood count
- Liver function tests
- Liver biopsy
Tests to find other diseases include
- Abdominal CT scan.
- Blood tests to know the other causes of liver diseases
- Ultrasound of the abdomen.
The primary treatment one need to follow is to stop consuming alcohols, if you haven’t entered into the final stage cirrhosis. With this practice, liver can heal.
Alcohol rehabilitation counselling is a good choice to opt.
If you are at cirrhosis, you need to handle the complications that are associated with the problem. If the liver got damaged severely then you are in a need of liver transplant.
The complications of alcoholic liver disease
People can suffer from the alcoholic liver disease and still not be able to feel the effects of what it is doing to them. The reason behind this is that it can take an awful lot of damage and still be able to do its job. Here are some of the complications or symptoms of the alcoholic liver disease:
- Liver cancer
- An increase in the number of white blood cells
- Fatty liver
- Easy bruising
- Speaking difficulties
- Dry mouth and frequent thirst
- Thinning hair or alopecia
- Numbness in the legs or feet
- Pale or even dark skin
- Sudden death
How can you stay in control?
- Try to stay away from alcohol for some days. Days away from drinking can ensure that your body does not become addicted to alcohol. Try taking a break and write down whether you notice any changes in your behavior.
- Eat well. Take a healthy meal before you can start drinking. For example, healthy snacks that are low in fat between drinks can make you want to reduce your intake of alcohol. Good nutrition can help to support the functioning of your liver.
- Keep track of what you take in. Your liver will not be able to tell whether you are drinking too much.
Can you reverse the damage?
When you drink within the lower risk guidelines of the government and eat healthy, you can protect the liver from further damage. If you continue to drink like before, it will only lead to further problems. On the contrary, if you start taking the steps towards staying in control soon enough, you can prevent the possibilities of going into a coma and dying.
Don’t become a victim
Do not take fatty foods or foods that are oily if you would like to treat your condition. Even if you are a woman, you have a higher possibility of suffering from the alcoholic liver disease – but nothing can be done about it, except doing what the doctor says. Even if you have a pre-existing liver condition, it can worsen when you get the alcoholic liver disease. A family history of alcohol abuse can also lead to inheriting this condition. If you have ever felt guilty about drinking a lot, take your thoughts seriously. Have you ever thought that you should consider cutting down the amount of fat intake? Then, take immediate action and stop eating oily and fatty foods immediately. Do not take medications such as Disulfiram, which can cause you to nauseate or even vomit if you drink it. Withdrawal medications such as Acamprosate can help you. Also, make instant changes to your diet by eating healthier foods. You would need to consume B-Complex capsules and also folic acid since these can make you healthy over again by reversing malnutrition. Do not go again on a drinking binge. It will only worsen your condition.
If you are facing serious trouble, call up the nearest hospital and ask them to help you out. Even if you are already being treated for alcoholic liver disease, make sure you seek prompt medical care if you notice any of the symptoms of the condition.
Long term management of ALD
Nutritional therapy is one of the therapies that are most effective in case of people suffering from the alcoholic liver disease. Since malnutrition is very common in the people suffering from this condition,you would need to ask your doctor to help you by putting you on nutritional therapy. You would need to be put on a high protein diet in order to feel better. Going on a protein rich diet will help you recover from alcoholic liver disease.
There are several medications to treat alcoholic liver disease. Many studies have been conducted that conclude that medical therapies are also highly effective in treating this condition. Sometimes, you would be given diuretics such as chlorthalidone combinations, chlorothiazide, hydrochlorothiazide combinations, etc. Moreover, the doctors may give you lactulose, and other medications. Paracentesis may be done on you in order to drain the excess fluid in the body by means of a needle inserted in the abdomen. Sometimes, they may carry out a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt in order to reduce the pressure on your liver due to alcohol abuse.
If you do not get the alcoholic liver disease treated on time, it may lead to even life-threatening complications. Ask your healthcare professional to put you on a nutritional therapy or one of the medical therapies today. The symptoms of alcoholic liver disease can vary from one person to another. However, they can even be lethal if you do not call a healthcare professional on time.
Is misdiagnosis possible?
If there are no symptoms in the early stages, the condition might be misdiagnosed. Sometimes, the symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, etc. may be attributed to stress or even old age. Sometimes, the more serious conditions such as liver cancer, gallstones, viral hepatitis, etc. may be attributed to some other conditions rather than to the alcoholic liver disease. Some people may knowingly delay the treatment of this condition since they fear that a serious underlying cause of the symptoms may be due to their alcohol dependence and that they may need to give up on alcohol for good. You should not avoid going for the treatment of this condition even if you have to give up on alcohol.