Liver disease is a dangerous and oftentimes debilitating negative condition characterized by a wide range of different symptoms. Although liver disease may be caused by different origins, excessive alcohol consumption is also a significant cause of this disease. Read on to learn more about the connection between liver disease and alcohol and how to get the treatment you need to pursue better health.
What is Liver Disease?
Liver disease can include one or several conditions that damage and negatively affect the liver. As the second largest organ in the body, the liver performs various important functions, primarily separating toxins from nutrients and processing waste as it moves throughout the body’s digestive system.
Approximately 1 in 10 Americans, or about 30 million Americans in total, suffer from some type of liver disease.1 However, some kinds of liver disease are more common than others.
Causes of Liver Disease
Liver disease may be caused by different root origins or viruses, including:
- Viral infections like hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
- Immune system issues
- Inherited diseases like Wilson’s Disease
- Consuming toxins, such as alcohol
The Link Between Liver Disease and Alcohol
Alcohol has a profound negative effect on the liver. Remember, the liver is meant to filter toxins out of the blood and help with the digestion of food. While the liver is resilient and can regenerate itself, prolonged exposure to alcohol can reduce the ability of this organ to regenerate. Therefore, alcohol has a direct link to long-term liver disease, in particular scarring and cirrhosis.
Note that alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) does not occur in everyone, and just being a heavy drinker does not guarantee you will get this condition. However, your chances of developing alcohol-related liver disease increase the longer you’ve been drinking and as you consume more alcohol.
ARLD is more common in individuals between 40 and 50 years old, and men are more likely to have this problem than women.2 However, women are at a greater risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease after consuming less alcohol than men, given their average smaller sizes.
Symptoms of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
Alcohol-related liver disease is characterized by many negative and potentially severe symptoms. Unfortunately, ARLD doesn’t usually cause symptoms in the liver until the organ has been very severely damaged. Common symptoms of ARLD can include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice, or the yellowing of the skin or the whites of your eyes
- Drowsiness or confusion
- Swelling in the stomach and ankles
- Feeling sick
- Vomiting blood
- Passing blood in the stool
Sometimes, liver function tests can diagnose alcohol-related liver disease or an advanced stage of liver damage. If you believe you or a loved one have experienced liver disease due to alcohol consumption, speak to your doctor so they can order tests right away.
Alcohol-related liver disease can progress through three distinct stages, including:
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can occur after drinking lots of alcohol, even over a few days. This is characterized by the build-up of fats in the liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis, which is potentially serious and can be caused by prolonged alcohol misuse
- Cirrhosis, at which stage of your liver has become very scarred. Cirrhosis is generally not reversible. However, ceasing the consumption of alcohol can prevent further cirrhosis damage and increase one’s life expectancy
Generally, treatment for liver disease from alcohol involves stopping alcohol consumption altogether. The more alcohol you consume, the worse any liver damage you have already accrued will become, and the greater the likelihood you have of your alcohol-related liver disease progressing to a more severe stage.
If you or a loved one suffer from alcohol use disorder – meaning you are addicted to the substance and cannot stop consuming alcohol by yourself – seek out licensed care from rehabilitation centers and inpatient recovery facilities. Compassionate care under the guidance of trained professionals is your best choice to build up healthy habits and overcome this disease.
Furthermore, you may require medical care and treatment for your cirrhosis or other liver disease symptoms. If left unchecked, liver disease symptoms could lead to poisoning or toxin build-up in your body, including potentially sepsis. This life-threatening condition should be interrupted and treated at the earliest opportunity.
Fortunately, when you check into a recovery facility, you’ll undergo a medical examination to determine whether you need specific medical care, or you can begin the withdrawal recovery process right away.
Contact Clear Life Recovery Today
Ultimately, liver disease caused by alcohol can be devastating and debilitating. If left unchecked, it could even lead to death or other long-term, negative health consequences. You can get the support you need at Clear Life Recovery, where our compassionate staff members will get you back on track to a healthy lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more.