As the name indicates, alcoholic liver disease is about liver damage caused by consumption of alcohol. Alcohol can cause inflammation of the organ and can increase the fat deposits, which can eventually lead to scarring of liver tissue – a condition known as cirrhosis. While alcoholic liver disease is not uncommon, it doesn’t happen to everyone who is a heavy drinker. It may take years to notice the first symptoms, and whether a person will get alcoholic liver disease depends on other factors too. Experts from United Surgical Partners International believe that genetics may have a role to play in alcoholic liver disease. Women are more likely to suffer from ALD than men.
What are the symptoms?
In most cases of alcoholic liver disease, there are no early signs, which is why people don’t often seek medical attention before things get worse. Patients usually complain of fatigue, decreased appetite, unexpected weight loss, nausea and swelling and pain in the abdomen. Also, patients may suffer from the signs of jaundice, which refers to the yellowish colors of the skin and whites of the eyes. Some also have spider-like veins in their torso and other parts of the body and might be prone to bruising. In many cases, alcoholic liver disease can impact the cognitive abilities, and the patient might have numbness in the feet besides confusion.
If you have been drinking regularly for the last few years or are a heavy drinker in general, you should consult your doctor to know more about alcoholic liver disease. He may suggest a few of the liver function tests to find the number of certain enzymes. In most cases, biopsy of the organ is also suggested, while patients might need additional ultrasound, CT scan and blood tests.
Since alcoholic liver disease is related to alcohol consumption, the first step is to avoid all kinds of alcoholic drinks completely. Your doctor may suggest counseling and rehab stay to deal with the addiction. In most cases, folic acids and vitamins are used to reverse the damage caused to the liver. If the patient is suffering from liver cirrhosis caused by alcoholic liver disease, additional medicines are needed to deal with the complications. The last and final resort is a liver transplant, which thankfully is a fairly successful procedure.
If you know someone who is dealing with a drinking problem, do educate them about alcoholic liver disease.