While certainly not all liver diseases are associated with alcohol consumption, the data indicate that 4 of 5 liver-related deaths occur in people who were heavy drinkers. The association between alcohol and liver diseases is high because the liver is where alcohol is broken down and metabolized, there are by products of the alcohol.
These byproducts sitting in the liver are toxic to humans.
The liver is the dumpster for the body and is able to recover and even regenerate as it processes all of the body’s toxins. But when a male consumes 72 ounces (oz) of beer, 1 liter of wine, or 8 oz. distilled spirits (5–6 standard drinks) daily for 20 years or a women consumes one-fourth to one-half that amount, the alcohol by-products cause liver damage that the liver cannot recover from.
There are resources for those who struggle with alcohol addiction. You can nearby help here through the National Institutes of Health.
Liver diseases associated with alcohol are:
- Fatty liver – Fat builds up in the liver to a level that the liver just can’t work properly
- Hepatitis (an inflammation of the liver) – About 1/3 of those with Fatty Liver develop a chronic inflammation of the liver. This stage of disease is often symptom free.
- Acute Alcohol Hepatitis – A level of inflammation that causes symptoms of jaundice, weight loss/loss of appetite, stomach pain. About 1 of every three people who develop Acute Alcohol Hepatitis will not survive.
- Cirrhosis – This is a stage of disease in which the liver is scarred by the by-products of breaking down alcohol. These by-products stop the liver’s natural ability to repair scarring. As the healthy cells are scarred, the liver cannot function properly, eventually leading to death. While sometimes Cirrhosis has no symptoms, it can cause a person to vomit blood, feel generally unwell, weight/loss of appetite, develop muscle cramps, and have a swollen stomach.
- Liver Failure and Death
Things you can do to decrease the impact of Liver Disease include:
- A healthy diet – lower the amount of processed foods
- Regular exercise
- A healthy body weight
- Quit smoking
- Increase vitamin D
Every Liver Disease associated with alcohol consumption will improve when the person stops drinking. Fatty Liver disease can be cured completely. The scarring from Cirrhosis will not heal, but it will slow or stop becoming worse.
Check Your Drinking! The Alcohol Screening Tool
The Check Your Drinking Alcohol Screening Tool from the CDC is a self-assessment of alcohol drinking and can give advice. It can also help build a plan to make healthier choices. Click the link below:
This tool is for adults 18 years or older. It is not intended for medical diagnosis or treatment.