Symptoms of alcoholic liver disease varies depending on an individual’s liver function. The liver has over 500 vital functions that it performs in order to keep the body running. When the liver can become damaged it is unable to perform these essential functions which serve other parts of the body.
What are the symptoms?
Alcoholic liver disease symptoms can be split into two categories, just like many illnesses and afflictions. Acute and post abuse symptoms. Acute symptoms can be difficult to notice because they are rather general and can be a result of any number of causes. Post-acute symptoms occur when the liver is no longer at a capacity to repair itself as quickly anymore as excess alcohol consumption destroys it.
- Acute symptoms of alcoholic liver disease include
- Stomach pain
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Nausea and vomiting
It is easy to overlook these symptoms or blame them on a different cause for example the stomach flu or general discomfort. In the event that acute symptoms are not properly addressed and the individual continues to consume alcohol they can lead to a more advanced stage of the disease. If you are worried about your own or a loved one’s alcohol drinking habits you should consider treatment by talking at your GP and consider options like alcohol rehab.
Post-acute symptoms of alcoholic liver disease
- Fluid buildup in the legs
- Yellow tint to the skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Redness of the palms of hands
- Bruising easily and abnormal bleeding
- Confusion and problems concentrating
- Pay or clay coloured stool
Less common post-acute problems include:
- Fingernails with excessive curving
- Extremely itchy skin
- Blood in vomit and stools
- Increased sensitivity to alcohol and other substances.
It’s typical that alcoholic liver disease to come on slowly and worsen during and following periods of heavy drinking. Individuals can spend years and years damaging their liver with alcohol and not feel any effects at all until it’s too late and the damage becomes irreversible.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease (steatosis) in this stage, extra fat begins to build up around the liver. Heavy drinking damages liver cells, which makes them less functional and unable to break down excess fat. Usually if someone ceases drinking alcohol, then alcohol related fatty liver disease is reversible.
Acute alcoholic hepatitis
During this stage chronic alcohol abuse causes the liver to become inflamed and swollen. Acute alcoholic hepatitis can develop after four or more drink sin woman and five + drinks in men, this can be considered binge drinking. Depending on the extent of the liver damage the condition may or may not be reversible.
Alcoholic liver fibrosis results in certain kinds of proteins compiling in the liver. Mild and moderate cases of fibrosis could be reversible but continuous fibrosis and inflammation can lead to liver scarring and even liver cancer.
Alcoholic cirrhosis: This is considered the most advanced stage of alcoholic liver disease. Once someone hits this stage the liver has already been scared by alcohol abuse and if left untreated the condition can lead to liver failure.
When an individual consumes alcohol, it passes through the digestive system and is metabolised or broken down by the liver, as alcohol is broken down it releases a toxic chemical called alcetachyde. This can damage the liver in large quantities.