The liver is the center of metabolism, which is involved in removing various toxins from the body. Alcohol is one of the toxins that gets eliminated via the liver, and when a liver is exposed repeatedly to alcohol, it gets inflamed, scarred, and results in reduced functionality. This is known as an alcoholic liver disease and affects about 40% of all heavy drinkers. The affected age group is often 40 to 60, males more than females, though females who are heavy drinkers tend to have severe alcoholic liver disease.
Heavy drinking is when a person has more than 5 drinks within a few hours at least 5 times a month. For women, it is more than 4 drinks within a few hours at least 5 times a month.
Symptoms: Alcoholic liver disease is a chronic condition, and there are no overnight symptoms. However, over a period of time, the person will present with the following:
Diagnosis: When a person presents with these symptoms, the doctor can get suspicious and the diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease is confirmed by:
Complications: If left untreated, the liver can continue to undergo inflammation, further affecting its function. Overall metabolism is severely affected. The fluid build-up in the abdomen (ascites) could be dangerous. Jaundice can reach lethal levels, and so intervention is very essential.
Treatment: The point to note is that if identified early on, the condition can be reversed if some key steps are taken:
Periodic monitoring is essential to prevent relapse and complete recovery.