Frequent Drinker? Educate Yourself About Alcohol-Induced Liver Disease

Many alcoholics today suffer from liver disease directly related to their alcohol use. Three types of this disease have been identified. What must a person know about this condition if they consume alcohol heavily?

Types of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

When fat builds up inside the liver, it causes the organ to increase in size. Medical professionals refer to this as steatotic liver, and it is the most common type. However. it is only one of the liver-related dangers of alcohol addiction. Acute hepatitis is another.

Acute hepatitis is a condition in which the liver becomes inflamed. Cells within the organ die, and there may be permanent scarring. Cirrhosis destroys normal tissue in the liver and leaves scar tissue in its place. This may lead to the liver failing.


Heavy use of alcohol affects the liver. This organ works to break the alcohol down. With excessive consumption of this substance, the liver cannot process it fast enough and is damaged when trying to do so. Any person might develop fatty liver if they drink heavily. Those who consume large amounts of alcohol over a long period are at risk of alcohol-related hepatitis or cirrhosis. However, doctors cannot say who might develop this condition.

How Much is Too Much?

Men who drink five or more drinks in one day or 15 or more drinks in a week are considered heavy alcohol users. For women, these numbers are smaller. Four drinks in a day or eight in a week is considered heavy. What is a drink? Fourteen grams of pure alcohol is one drink, which is the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or one shot of whiskey.

Diagnosing Alcohol-Associated Liver Disease

Healthcare providers use several methods to diagnose alcohol-related liver disease. Blood tests are often the first indication there is a problem with the liver. The doctor might request a biopsy or ultrasound to learn more about the organ and determine what type of disease the person has. CT scans and MRIs might also be used. Other tests might be needed based on what is found during these.

Treating Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Men and women with alcohol-related liver disease are at high risk of hepatitis C virus or hepatitis B virus. Kidney problems are common in individuals with liver disease and some patients become confused easily. Doctors must watch for a buildup of fluid in the abdomen and gastrointestinal bleeding. Liver cancer is also a concern.

Doctors work to restore normal function of the liver when addressing alcohol-related liver disease. The patient must stop drinking and enter an addiction treatment program. Dietary changes are often recommended to help the liver heal itself. Vitamins might be prescribed or the person may need to limit their salt intake. Water pills and anti-inflammatory medications help some patients. The doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the test results.

Alcohol-associated liver disease is easily preventable. Sadly, it remains common today, and more people need to know how alcohol affects this vital organ. Heavy use of alcohol damages the liver, so a person can drink in moderation with few worries about developing this disease, although abstinence remains the best option. Once a person develops liver disease, all alcohol use must stop. Don’t wait until it gets to this point. Seek help for problem drinking today. Your liver will thank you for doing so.

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