Alcoholic Liver Diseases: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Updated on 1 October 2019

Overconsumption of alcohol, over a period of time can result in alcoholic liver disease. It not only leads to liver damage but also the buildup of fats, inflammation, and scarring. The healthy liver tissues of a person are replaced with scarred liver tissues under the condition. Considered to be one of the major reasons for acute liver damage, alcohol abuse can also cause liver failure compelling a person to undergo liver transplant surgery. Liver damage due to alcohol usually occurs in three stages: Fatty liver, liver hepatitis, and liver cirrhosis.

Early Signs

The early signs are not very noticeable and affect a range of systems in the body. A person might feel unwell and might have:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea

It is common to interpret early symptoms as effects of general malaise and stomach bug. Leaving the symptoms untreated can make the disease progress faster.

Alcoholic Liver Disease Symptoms

As the Alcoholic liver diseases progress further, the symptoms get more recognizable. The distinguishing symptoms of later-stage liver disease include:

  • Swelling of the lower limbs(edema)
  • Ascites or buildup of fluid in the abdomen
  • Jaundice
  • Fever and shivering
  • Loss of weight
  • Extremely itchy skin
  • General weakness and wasting muscles
  • Fingernails that curve excessively
  • Blood in stools and vomit
  • Bleeding and bruising easily
  • Sensitive reaction to drugs and alcohol

In the presence of all these symptoms, visiting a doctor from the best liver care hospital becomes important.

Treatment Options for Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) Abstinence

The most important therapeutic intervention for people with alcoholic liver disease is complete abstinence from taking alcohol. It not only reduces the risk of further damage but also gives the liver a chance to recover. Completely refraining from drinking also helps improve the outcome and histological features of hepatic injury. This helps improve the survival rate at all stages of ALD.

  • Nutritional Therapy

Another consequence of ALD is malnutrition. This is more prominent in patients in the second stage of alcoholic hepatitis. Protein-calorie malnutrition is more common in patients with ALD. No matter the stage, a hepatologist must be consulted and nutritional therapy must be started at the earliest. It helps alleviate the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis and improve the condition.

  • Medication (Pharmacological Therapy)

Symptoms and stages of the disease are carefully screened by the hepatologist. Depending on the stage, various drugs, and medications are prescribed which a patient must take religiously to improve the symptoms.

  • Liver Transplant

When the condition gets severe, liver transplant surgery is the only treatment option left. The step is taken when the liver has completely stopped functioning and no improvement is witnessed even after the patient has stopped drinking. Complicated cirrhosis and body not responding to other types of treatments including medications are some other reasons that the patient might require to undergo liver transplant. A person must also lose weight and quit smoking since both are known to make alcoholic liver disease worse.





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