Information about the Types of Alcohol-related Liver Disease, Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol-related Liver Disease, Diagnosis of Alcohol-related Liver Disease, Alcohol-related Liver Disease Treatment & Prognosis.
Alcohol-related Liver Disease is a short-term or progressive liver damage due to excessive alcohol consumption. The most common cause of severe long-term liver disease in developed countries is excessive alcohol consumption. More men than women have Alcohol-related Liver Disease because more men drink heavily. However, women are more susceptible to liver damage from alcohol because of differences in the way that men and women metabolize alcohol.
Regular excessive alcohol consumption is more likely to cause damage to the liver than sporadic heavy drinking. The longer excessive alcohol consumption continues, the greater the likelihood of developing liver disease. Long-term Alcohol-related Liver Disease is known to increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
Types of Alcohol-related Liver Disease
Alcohol may cause three types of liver disease: fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Typically, these conditions occur in sequence, but this is not always the case. Over a number of years, most heavy drinkers develop a fatty liver, in which fat globules develop within liver cells. If alcohol consumption continues, hepatitis or inflammation of the liver develops. With continued drinking, cirrhosis develops. In this condition, liver cells that are damaged by alcohol are replaced by fibrous scar tissue. If cirrhosis has developed, liver damage is irreversible. It is not known why some heavy drinkers go on to develop hepatitis or cirrhosis while others do not.
Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol-related Liver Disease
In many cases, fatty liver does not cause symptoms and often remains undiagnosed. However, in about 1 in 3 affected people, the liver becomes enlarged, which may lead to discomfort in the right upper abdomen.
Alcoholic hepatitis also may not produce symptoms, but after about 10 years of heavy drinking in men and sooner in women, the first symptoms usually develop. These may include:
- Nausea and occasional vomiting.
- Discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen.
- Weight loss.
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (Jaundice).
- Swollen abdomen.
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