Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) happens when the liver is damaged by years of excessive drinking. The liver becomes inflamed and swollen due to years of alcohol abuse. This damage also causes scarring called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the final stage of liver disease.
ARLD is a supreme public health problem. Heavy drinking is classified as more than 8 alcoholic beverages per week for women and more than 15 for men. Liver disease is just one of the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. It is especially a serious issue because liver failure can be fatal.
The liver performs the task of breaking down and filtering out harmful substances in the blood, and manufacturing proteins, enzymes, and hormones that the body uses to ward off infections. It also changes vitamins, nutrients, and medicines into substances that our bodies can use. The liver is also responsible for cleaning our blood, producing bile for digestion and storing glycogen for energy. The liver processes over 90% of alcohol consumed. The rest departs the body via urine, sweat, and breathing.
It takes the body approximately an hour to process an alcoholic beverage. This time frame rises with each drink. The higher an individual’s blood alcohol content, the longer it takes to process alcohol. The liver can only process a particular amount of alcohol at a time. When someone drinks too much, the alcohol left unprocessed by the liver circulates through the bloodstream. Alcohol in the blood begins affecting the heart and brain, which is the reason for people getting intoxicated.
Causes of Alcohol Consumption on the liver:
Common symptoms of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease:
Treatment Options for Alcoholic Liver Diseases:
Complete abstinence from alcohol is the most vital therapeutic intervention for people with Alcoholic Liver Disease. Avoiding alcohol reduces the risk of further damage to the liver and also provides it with a chance to recover. Abstinence from alcohol eventually improves survival at all ALD stages.
Perhaps the chief complication of ALD is malnutrition, especially in patients who are in the second stage of alcoholic hepatitis. Patients in any stage of alcoholic liver disease must consult a hepatologist and get start with a nutritional therapy as soon as possible. It helps in alleviating the symptoms and improving the current condition of the liver.
Medications (Pharmacological Therapy)
A hepatologist is likely to prescribe various drugs and medications after carefully screening the symptoms and stages of the disease to an ALD patient.
A liver transplant may be the ultimate treatment which will be the last straw in extreme medical cases. In severe cases of ALD, where the liver has stopped functioning and there is no point of improvement even after the patient stops drinking, a liver transplant might be suggested. The consideration for a liver transplant is only taken when the patient has developed complications of cirrhosis or if the body does not respond to other treatments including medications.
If someone or people you may know has a heavy drinking habit or is facing the symptoms mentioned above, it is advised to them to take a liver test timely and getting in touch with a specialist for expert advice. Take preventive steps to secure your future and get tested now.