The liver is a vital organ to the human body. It filters toxic substances from our blood, creates bile to digest food, stores nutrients and energy, and manufactures proteins, hormones, and enzymes that are necessary for daily function and disease prevention.
Too much of anything can be harmful, and alcohol is no exception. Whether you drink too much on occasion, or over a period of time, your liver takes a serious hit. Alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) usually occurs from excessive drinking, and is not typically seen in moderate drinkers. The three main types of ALD are as follows:
- Fatty liver: Also known as steatosis, this is the first stage and most common of alcohol-related liver disease, and occurs fairly quickly in heavy drinkers. Fat builds up inside cells, which decreases liver function. Usually, you can’t feel it, although, it may become enlarged and cause discomfort. Fatty liver will usually go away if you stop drinking.
- Alcoholic hepatitis: This occurs when the liver is inflamed or swollen, and the liver cells are being destroyed. Roughly 35% of heavy drinkers have hepatitis, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe, such as: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and tenderness, fever, and jaundice. Hepatitis progresses into cirrhosis, but may be reversible if you quit drinking. Alcoholic hepatitis may even occur suddenly after binge drinking, and can cause life-threatening complications.
- Alcoholic cirrhosis: The last and most serious stage of (ALD), cirrhosis occurs when healthy liver tissue is replaced with dead scar tissue. Some 10-20% of heavy drinkers will develop cirrhosis, typically over several years of drinking. Fibrosis is the initial stage of scarring, which leads to more serious symptoms, including: abdominal fluid retention, esophageal bleeding, enlarged spleen, high blood pressure in the liver, behavioral changes, confusion, and death.
Some people are more prone to alcohol-related liver disease than others. Groups with the following in common have an elevated risk: obesity, malnourishment, women, genetic predisposition to alcoholism, certain races and ethnicities with a higher incidence of alcoholism.
Alcohol-related liver disease does not have to be a death sentence. The most important thing you can do to combat the disease, is to stop drinking. The way to stop drinking, is to check-in to detox. Do not attempt to go cold turkey, as this can kill you. The sooner you flush out the toxins, the better. Don’t wait, call us today. We are here to help you make a comfortable transition into a life free of addiction.
Higher standards. Exceptional care. When you send your loved one to a New Vista Behavioral Health treatment center, you can expect better outcomes for a better recovery. Our nationwide family of facilities offers the best in dual diagnosis care, residential treatment, medical detox, and the utmost privacy. Call us today for information and to find the right program for you: 866-926-1498