Alcoholic liver disease is damage to the liver and its function due to alcohol abuse. Sometimes this form of liver disease is also referred to as Cirrhosis or hepatitis – alcoholic; Laennec’s cirrhosis.
Alcoholic liver disease occurs after years of heavy drinking. Alcohol can cause inflammation in the liver, which over time, can cause scarring and cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the final phase of alcoholic liver disease.
Alcoholic liver disease does not occur in all heavy drinkers. The chances of getting liver disease increase the longer you have been drinking and the more alcohol you consume. You do not have to get drunk for the disease to happen.
The disease seems to be more common in some families. Women may be more likely to have this problem than men.
Symptoms vary, based on how bad the disease is. You may not have symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms tend to be worse after a period of heavy drinking.
Digestive symptoms include:
Skin problems such as:
Brain and nervous system symptoms include:
A number of tests could be ordered by your physician to diagnose your symptoms which may include:
Tests to rule out other diseases include:
The most important part of treatment is to stop using alcohol completely. If liver cirrhosis has not yet occurred, the liver can heal if you stop drinking alcohol.
An alcohol rehabilitation program or counseling may be necessary to break the alcohol addiction. Vitamins, especially B-complex and folic acid, can help reverse malnutrition. If cirrhosis develops, you may need to manage the complications of cirrhosis. You may need a liver transplant if there has been a lot of liver damage.
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