Alcoholic liver disease: Symptoms, treatment, and causes

Research suggests possible genetic links, but this is not yet clear. But support, advice and medical treatment may be available through local alcohol addiction support services. A liver transplant may become necessary in end-stage ALD. However, eligibility may depend on being abstinent from alcohol for a specific length of time. In decompensated cirrhosis, symptoms become more apparent. Someone with decompensated cirrhosis may develop ascites (or fluid in the abdomen), gastrointestinal bleeding, and hepatic encephalopathy, in which the brain is affected.

Drinking a large amount of alcohol, even for just a few days, can lead to a build-up of fats in the liver. If you believe you or someone you love may be struggling with addiction, let us hear your story and help you determine a path to treatment. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding liver-damaging foods such as fried foods, can also help the liver heal during treatment. In some cases, supplementation with vitamins may be recommended. While treating ALD it is important not only to abstain from alcohol but also become conscious of other factors that could affect the liver. Many people with ALD are malnourished (lacking proper nutrition) due to a variety of factors, such as lack of eating, vomiting, and malabsorption (difficulty absorbing nutrients from food).

The liver

The liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself. Each time your liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. If you regularly drink alcohol to excess, tell your GP so they can check if your liver is damaged. After stopping drinking, which is the first step in any treatment of ALD, an assessment will be made alcoholic liver disease as to the extent of the damage and the overall state of the body. Treatment also consists of evaluation for other risk factors that can damage the liver or put the liver at higher risk, such as infection with hepatitis C and metabolic syndrome. Though rare, liver cancer can develop from the damage that occurs with cirrhosis.

  • Abstaining from drinking alcohol is the first step in treating ALD.
  • Doctors may also recommend weight loss and quitting smoking as excess weight and smoking have both demonstrated a role in worsening alcoholic liver disease.
  • To prevent alcoholic liver disease and other conditions linked to the consumption of alcohol, doctors advise people to follow National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) guidelines.
  • Other medications, such as Pentoxil (pentoxifylline), may also be used.
  • Only people who have stopped drinking can take these supplements.
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis is a progression of ALD in which scarring in the liver makes it difficult for that organ to function properly.

The guidelines classify moderate drinking up to one drink a day for females, and up to two drinks for males, and only over the age of 21 years. Antirejection medications after transplant can increase the risk of serious infections and certain cancers. Alcohol misuse is now one of the most common causes of death in the UK, along with smoking and high blood pressure. This reduces the risk of further damage to your liver and gives it the best chance of recovering. Cirrhosis is a stage of ARLD where the liver has become significantly scarred. Even at this stage, there may not be any obvious symptoms.

What Stages Aren’t Reversible?

However, when liver tissue loss is severe enough to cause liver failure, most of the damage may be permanent. Alcoholic fatty liver disease appears early on as fat deposits accumulate in the liver. People who consume four to five standard drinks per day over decades can develop fatty liver disease. If you’re diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, you must stop drinking alcohol. People who keep drinking alcohol have a high risk of serious liver damage and death.

Sometimes, heavy drinking over a short period, even less than a week, can cause this. Alcoholic liver disease is liver damage from overconsuming alcohol. It can cause a buildup of fats, inflammation, and scarring.

Alcoholic hepatitis

This activity reviews the evaluation and management of and highlights the role of the interprofessional team in the recognition and management of this condition. Alcoholic liver disease is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. There are three stages—alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis. Evidence shows that even if AFLD has progressed to fibrosis, for instance, the liver can repair and regenerate itself.14 The key is that alcohol consumption must stop. If you have been diagnosed with an alcohol-related liver disease, the single most important thing to do is stop drinking.

Those who regularly drink more than the recommended daily limits of alcohol should not stop drinking without medical support. Individuals should seek help from a medical professional to safely manage alcohol withdrawal. Once the alcoholic liver disease progresses, its symptoms become easier to recognize. Alcoholic hepatitis usually progresses to cirrhosis if a person continues to drink alcohol. Hepatitis heals in a person who stops drinking alcohol, but any cirrhosis does not reverse. Drinking a large volume of alcohol can cause fatty acids to collect in the liver.