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Alcoholism And Liver Disease

Liver disease is a well-known consequence of heavy drinking and alcoholism.  Unfortunately, by the time someone notices significant symptoms, they may have already caused serious injury to their liver.  Human livers were designed to filter toxins out of the blood, but not to handle toxic levels of alcohol consumption.  Learn important facts about alcohol related liver disease and ways to minimize damage.

Three Types Of Liver Disease Caused By Alcohol

Liver disease can be caused by many things.  When it’s caused by excessive drinking, it comes in three forms – Fatty Liver, Alcoholic Hepatitis, and Alcoholic Cirrhosis.  Read further to learn more about each progressively worse type.

-Fatty Liver

Nearly everyone who drinks excessively will develop Fatty Liver.  Fat cells build up in the liver because it can’t process the fat efficiently enough.  This can be uncomfortable, but is not harmful on its own.  If the excess fat leads to liver inflammation, then the liver can become damaged and scarred.

-Alcoholic Hepatitis

A person can develop Alcoholic Hepatitis when their liver becomes inflamed from excessive drinking.  This can cause jaundice, vomiting, pain, and loss of appetite.  If a person with Alcoholic Hepatitis stops drinking, the damage can usually be reversed.

-Alcoholic Cirrhosis

This is the most advanced and life-threatening form of alcohol-related liver disease.  Cirrhosis is the scarring of liver tissue, which cannot be reversed.  In many cases, chronic heavy drinkers will gradually go from having fatty liver, to hepatitis, and finally to cirrhosis.

Treatment of Alcohol Related Liver Disease

Before any medical treatment can be effective, a person with alcohol related liver disease must stop drinking.  There is no way around this reality.  Alcohol treatment may be needed to make this happen.  If someone continues to drink despite serious liver problems, their health will only get worse.  They could even be at risk for death.

Alcohol rehab is just the start for treating liver disease.  In most cases, a person with alcohol related liver disease won’t be able to have a liver transplant.  However, diet changes and medications can help with some liver function problems.  Women need to be aware that alcohol related liver disease can develop with less alcohol over a shorter time than for men.  This puts women at a particularly high risk.  Most importantly, alcoholics with liver disease need to understand the importance of sobriety.

Creative Commons License Photo credit: arun_marjun

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