Anyone who drinks alcohol regularly or excessively can damage their liver. Damage may be mild, such as fatty liver. Mild liver disease, such as fatty liver, can be completely reversed if a person stops drinking alcohol. Heavy drinkers have a high risk of developing alcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as fatty liver disease.
In fact, an estimated 90% of heavy drinkers have some degree of this condition. Drinking too much alcohol can inhibit the breakdown of fats in the liver, therefore, fat accumulation occurs. When a person drinks alcohol, the liver is responsible for filtering alcohol from the bloodstream. Moderate amounts of alcohol usually don't affect normal liver function or cause alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD).
Alcoholic fatty liver disease is also called fatty liver disease. It occurs when fat starts to build up in the liver. Consuming too much alcohol can inhibit the breakdown of fats in the liver and cause fat accumulation. Alcoholic fatty liver disease can be reversed by abstaining from alcohol for at least several weeks.
The exact amount of time may vary from person to person. For some, abstinence may have to be permanent. If excessive alcohol consumption continues, levels of inflammation may begin to increase in the liver. This can cause a condition called alcoholic hepatitis.
Alcoholic hepatitis can be mild or severe. In mild alcoholic hepatitis, liver damage occurs slowly over many years. Severe alcoholic hepatitis can appear suddenly, such as after excessive drinking, and can be life-threatening. If you develop alcoholic hepatitis, you may be able to reverse the damage by permanently abstaining from alcohol.
Treatment also includes dietary changes and medications to reduce inflammation. Some people with severe alcoholic hepatitis may need a liver transplant. Ongoing liver damage due to alcohol consumption can cause scar tissue to form, which begins to replace healthy liver tissue. This is known as fibrosis.
When extensive fibrosis occurs, alcoholic cirrhosis develops. About one-third of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis, in which the liver becomes inflamed and swollen and liver cells are destroyed. The severity of this hepatitis ranges from mild to severe, and patients may have jaundice, fever, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal pain. The mild form can last for years and cause more liver damage, unless the patient stops drinking.
Severe alcoholic hepatitis occurs suddenly, usually after heavy drinking, and can be life-threatening. The only way to prevent this hepatitis from getting worse and improving life expectancy is to stop drinking. The liver is an integral part of the body, it filters the blood, detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. When you drink, different liver enzymes work to break down alcohol and remove it from your body.
Initially, this takes the form of an increase in fat in the liver, but over time it can lead to inflammation and the build-up of scar tissue. So, if you drink a lot of beer regularly and start to notice discomfort near your liver, feel fatigued, or have unexplained weight loss, know that these are symptoms of alcoholic liver disease. This is because one of the liver's key functions is to break down and filter toxins and other harmful substances from the blood, and alcohol is considered a toxin. In the meantime, limit yourself to one or two beers every other day or even less often to help protect your liver from damage.
Many of us who drink alcohol like to drink a cold beer in the late afternoon or at dusk, especially now that it's summer. Your provider may also refer you to a liver clinic, such as the Mayo Clinic Health System clinic in Mankato or Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for a more thorough evaluation and treatment of alcohol-related liver disease. An alcohol-dependent person should seek a medically supervised detox to stop drinking and seriously consider treating alcohol addiction. Women tend to develop liver disease faster than men, despite consuming the same amount of alcohol over the same period of time.