Alcohol and the Liver
There are many medical risks that come with alcohol use disorder, ranging from high blood pressure to cancer and even stroke.
The Definition of Heavy Drinking
Even one isolated binge drinking incident can result in alcohol poisoning, a range of negative health effects, and even death.
The Effect of Alcohol on the Liver
Combining alcohol and medication can be very dangerous for the liver. It is imperative that anyone taking medication speaks to their physician before consuming alcohol. If you are taking medication, it is always best to abstain from drinking entirely.
Signs of Liver Disease
People who are genetically predisposed to liver problems, or who develop an infection of some sort while drinking regularly, are also at risk.
- Jaundice, which is apparent by a yellow tinge to the skin and eyes
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and abdomen
- Dark urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Itchy skin
- Tendency to bruise easily
- Chronic fatigue and weakness
- Disorientation and incoherence
- Loss of appetite
- Pale, bloody, or tar-colored stool
Treatment for Liver Disease
- Fatty liver disease: Reversible with abstinence
- Alcoholic hepatitis: Reversible with abstinence
- Cirrhosis: Needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. Abstinence may help, although cirrhosis is often fatal due to secondary complications, such as kidney failure.
- Liver cancer: Also needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. May be irreversible and fatal due to factors such as the cancer spreading, or secondary complications.
Although many heavy drinkers are diagnosed with cirrhosis each year, the majority of those with this disease survive if they seek alcohol addiction treatment.