Alcoholic Liver Disease
The liver is responsible for processing blood passing through the stomach and the intestines, resulting in the breakdown and balancing of nutrients and the metabolism of drugs into more usable or nontoxic forms. Alcoholic liver disease occurs when the liver becomes inflamed and scarred by the consumption of alcohol, resulting in reduced functioning and a buildup of scar tissue. Although the common assumption is that alcoholic liver disease is caused by chronic, heavy drinking, studies have shown that moderate and binge drinking can also cause considerable damage to the liver. For women who drink more than one drink per day and men who drink over two, the likelihood of alcohol negatively affecting the liver increases. The liver is resilient, but the toxins associated with alcohol can damage the liver over time.
It is not just chronic, daily drinking that can result in alcoholic liver disease. Individuals who binge drink for short periods can experience liver malfunction symptoms like lethargy or pain in the upper abdomen. A common misconception is that people are safe from liver damage when they do not drink every day or only binge drink on the weekends; however, individuals who binge drink also risk developing alcoholic liver damage.
The good news associated with early-stage alcoholic liver disease is that damage can be reversible if someone stops drinking. It is essential to learn more about the stages of liver disease to identify the early symptoms.
It is possible to have no or very minimal symptoms in the preliminary stages of alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease; however, you may experience:
- Digestive issues like acid reflux or heartburn
- Skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or skin itchiness
- Adverse medication reactions as the liver will struggle to metabolize toxins
Learning to recognize early symptoms of liver disease is important. Early diagnosis is of paramount importance for a positive prognosis and reversing damage already done.
Given the limited symptoms many experience in the preliminary stages of liver disease, it may not be until the second or third stage that a diagnosis is made. Blood tests can flag when liver enzymes are off, resulting in earlier detection. This is one reason having annual bloodwork is an important part of early detection.
Early Symptoms Include:
- Jaundice – the yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Inflammation in abdomen, legs, ankles
- Urine is dark in color
- The stool is bloody, pale, or dark
- Little appetite
- Feeling overly tired
- Itchy skin
- Easily bruising
How to Reverse Alcoholic Liver Disease?
Once diagnosed with liver disease, consulting a liver specialist, seeking professional help from a nutritionist, and engaging in regular exercise are important steps. Weight management is an essential component of the treatment of liver disease. Alcohol intake should be stopped or minimized. Diabetes or high cholesterol should be strictly controlled. Discussing all medications with your liver specialist is important as many prescribed and over-the-counter medications can impact liver functioning. Treatment of liver disease following its diagnosis requires multiple interventions to ensure the best possible prognosis. Many individuals struggling with liver disease see improvement in their disease progress and symptom experience when maintaining abstinence from alcohol and following their providers’ nutritional and weight loss recommendations.
Of course, these recommendations for reducing alcoholic liver disease are far more difficult when a person is suffering from a substance use disorder. Alcohol dependence is exceptionally difficult to overcome on one’s own and detoxification from alcohol abuse can even be dangerous, depending on the length and quantity of use. Contacting a treatment center specializing in AUD, like JourneyPure, is the first step in the management of the disease and can help you or a loved one start a life of sobriety. Contact our admission specialists to learn more about our comprehensive treatment program.
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