Alcohol liver disease, in other words the disease that is related to alcohol consumption, can fall into any of the three categories - fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Fatty liver results from severe alcohol ingestion, but is necessarily not likely to develop into any chronic form of liver disease. It is also reversible in nature, if abstinence or moderation in alcohol consumption is maintained. Alcoholic hepatitis and Cirrhosis, on the other hand, present an acute form of alcohol-induced liver injury. They result from the consumption of a large quantity of alcohol, over a prolonged period of time. Unlike what people tend to believe, alcoholic liver disease does not affect all heavy drinkers. At the same time, women may be more susceptible to it, as compared to men.
Alcohol liver disease, as the very name suggests, is the result of excessive intake of alcohol, over a period of years. In fact, the chances of developing the disease are directly proportional to the amount and duration of alcohol consumption. In other words, the longer the alcohol use and the more the consumption of alcohol (during that time), the greater would be the likelihood of developing liver disease. Apart from that, the other factors that contribute to the development of alcoholic liver disease are genetic factors, personal susceptibility to alcohol-induced liver disease, and toxicity of alcohol (ethanol) to the liver.
Signs & Symptoms Of Alcoholic Liver Disease
The symptoms of alcohol liver disease might not be visible until it reaches an advanced stage.
- Abdominal pain and tenderness
- Dry mouth
- Excessive thirst
- Fluid collection in the abdomen (ascites)
- Loss of appetite
- Mental confusion
- Unintentional weight gain (because of fluid collection)
Some Other Symptoms
- Abnormally dark or light skin
- Bloody, dark black or tarry bowel movements (melena)
- Breast development in males
- Changing mood
- Confusion (encephalopathy)
- Changed level of consciousness
- Impaired short- or long-term memory
- Difficulty paying attention (attention deficit)
- Impaired ability to concentrate
- Impaired judgment
- Light-headedness or fainting, especially when standing
- Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) when rising to standing position
- Redness on feet or hands
- Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
- Vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
In order to diagnose liver-related diseases, CBC (Complete Blood Count), liver biopsy, serum ferritin and liver function tests such as ALP are conducted. In some of the cases, abdominal CT scan, blood tests for other causes of liver disease and ultrasound of the abdomen are also undertaken, to make sure that the signs and symptoms are not pointing out to any other disease. If alcohol-liver disease is diagnosed, the best action that the patient can take on hi/her part is to stop the consumption of alcohol altogether. If liver cirrhosis has not yet occurred, the liver will be able to heal itself, provided alcohol consumption is stopped.