One of the lifestyle choices that cause chronic liver disease is drinking alcohol. Alcohol intake is one of the main causes of liver damage, often known as alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD). Alcohol usage over a long period of time might result in enlarged and irritated liver tissue. The scarring that occurs as a consequence of this damage is known as cirrhosis, the last stage of liver disease.
Therefore, it is essential to be aware of how much and how often we use alcohol in order to assess if and to what degree our drinking has harmed us.
According to Drinkaware, those who use more than 40g, or four units, of alcohol per day are 90 percent more likely to develop alcohol-related fatty liver disease. The organisation states that it is about comparable to two medium (175ml) glasses of wine with a 12 percent alcohol by volume or less than two pints of ordinary beer with a 4 percent alcohol by volume.
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Our livers’ ability to break down potentially harmful chemicals like alcohol is one of its functions. When we drink, our liver’s different enzymes work to break down the alcohol and aid in its excretion. But consuming more alcohol than our livers can take may harm our livers. This first shows up as an increase in liver fat, but over time it may cause inflammation and scar tissue to build up.
Even though the liver is capable of regeneration, some liver cells are lost each time alcohol is filtered. The liver can create new cells, but over time, persistent alcohol usage may slow down this process. This may harm the liver severely and permanently. The damage can be undone and the risk of the disease spreading can be decreased by bringing the amount to zero.
Aside from drinking too much alcohol, other risk factors for developing ARLD include being overweight or obese and having a pre-existing liver disease like hepatitis C. Alcohol’s negative effects seem to affect women more than they do men. Alcoholism and issues with alcohol metabolism frequently run in families, so genetics also play a significant role.
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Typically, ARLD doesn’t show symptoms until the liver has been seriously injured. Therefore, it is advised that preventative screening tests for liver damage be included in regular health examinations, especially for people who regularly use alcohol. A Complete Blood Count (CBC), a liver function test that includes a liver enzyme test, an abdominal Computed Tomography (CT) scan, an abdominal ultrasound, and a liver biopsy are all examples of standard screening tests.
The upper right side of our abdomen may feel uncomfortable if we have liver swelling, which may be present if symptoms are already present or present at a later stage. The signs of ARLD include exhaustion, unexplained weight loss, appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting. Along with ankle swelling, yellowing of the skin and eyes is another possibility. Additionally, confusion, sleepiness, and blood in our stools or vomit are symptoms of a damaged liver.