The Stages of Liver Disease From Alcohol
Did you know that almost 6.7% of people in the United States alone suffer from alcohol use disorder or AUD? The abuse of alcohol can damage your life in a variety of ways. Not only can it destroy your relationships, but it can also destroy your body’s health, especially your liver.
The stages of liver disease from alcohol only get worse with continuous and prolonged alcohol abuse. By getting help early, avoiding alcohol, following a healthy diet, and losing weight, you can prevent alcohol-induced liver damage and the consequences that follow.
If you avoid help, you may have to deal with the first stage of liver disease which is fatty liver disease followed by alcoholic hepatitis, and finally, cirrhosis.
Keep reading to learn more. We will first explore the signs of liver damage from alcohol starting with fatty liver disease.
Stage One: Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease is a surprisingly common condition that involves excess fat building upon the liver. A normal liver contains some fat, but only in small amounts. You may have fatty liver disease if 5% or more of your liver’s weight consists of fat.
Fatty liver disease is a very mild disease and many people who have it don’t even know they have anything wrong with their liver. As long as you don’t let this disease get any worse, you won’t have to worry too much about any health consequences.
On the other hand, if you continue to consume large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis, you will likely experience more serious liver disease stages and eventually, you will have an alcoholic liver.
The healthy function of the liver is important for a variety of reasons because it is essentially a filter for your blood. The liver has the ability to remove toxins and bacteria from your body. Besides that, it is important for the production of bile which you need to digest and break down food.
As your fatty liver disease gets worse, you may start to notice some signs and symptoms. The first fatty liver stage is steatohepatitis and involves your liver becoming inflamed and damaged on a cellular level. As the damage continues, the ability of your liver to perform its usual functions will diminish.
Some common symptoms may include nausea and abdominal pain. You may also experience yelling of the skin or the whites of your eyes due to jaundice.
As your fatty liver disease progresses to more serious stages of liver disease, your symptoms will likely worsen along with the state of your overall health.
Stage Two: Alcoholic Hepatitis
Alcoholic hepatitis is the next stage of liver disease after fatty liver disease. People who have alcoholic hepatitis will likely know that there is something wrong with their health because the symptoms of this stage of liver disease tend to be more prominent. Hepatitis is a condition involving the inflammation of the liver.
Once your doctor diagnosis you with alcoholic hepatitis, it is important that you stop drinking all forms of alcohol at once. If you continue, you will put yourself at risk for more serious liver damage that you might not be able to recover from. You usually can only get alcoholic hepatitis after heavily drinking for several years, although some who drink moderately may also get hepatitis on occasion.
Those with alcoholic hepatitis may experience symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
You may often feel fatigued and you may feel that you have a mild fever. If you are a heavy drinker and start to experience these symptoms, it is important to visit a doctor and get a formal diagnosis right away.
In more severe cases, you may have bloating of the abdomen. This is known as ascites and involves the buildup of fluid within the abdomen. You may also experience periods of confusion.
Confusion occurs because of the buildup of toxins in the body. Usually, these toxins are excreted from the body with the help of the liver, but a liver with alcoholic hepatitis is unable to perform this task as well as it should. If you continue to drink during this stage, you will likely develop scar tissue over your damaged liver which will turn into a condition known as cirrhosis of the liver which is irreversible.
Stage Three: Cirrhosis of the Liver
Liver cirrhosis is the last stage of liver disease and it is also the most severe. Cirrhosis of the liver involves the scarring, also known as fibrosis, of the liver. The scars occur as a response to the damaged liver tissue.
Essentially, it is the liver’s final attempt to heal itself and survive. Small amounts of scarring will likely not cause much harm, but full cirrhosis of the liver will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the organ to function. Some common symptoms of liver cirrhosis include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, and edema (swelling) throughout the body.
You may also experience episodes of confusion due to the accumulation of toxins in the body. Men may experience a loss of sexual drive or function along with the enlargement of the breasts. Women, on the other hand, may stop their periods.
If you continue to drink alcohol at this point and if you avoid treatment, cirrhosis of the liver can be fatal because it will progress to liver failure. Kidney failure may also accompany the failure of the liver.
Recognize the Stages of Liver Disease from Alcohol
The stages of liver disease from alcohol can get progressively worse and even become a life-threatening problem if left untreated.
The most important thing you can do to avoid liver disease is to stop drinking. While it may be difficult at first, avoiding alcohol can not only prolong your life but allow you to live a healthier and more fulfilling life as well.
To learn more about how to stop drinking and get help, contact us.