Alcohol-related liver disease is a widespread health issue that affects many people worldwide. Liver disease is a progressive condition that can have severe implications, and it is essential to educate people about the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption. This article aims to provide information on the disease and how to prevent/manage it and will explore the various treatment options, symptoms, facts, and myths surrounding it.
The Shocking Truth About One of the Most Common Alcohol-Related Diseases
Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is a broad term that encompasses the damage to the liver caused by alcohol. ARLD is one of the most common causes of liver diseases worldwide. It affects people who drink heavily in prolonged periods, leading to damage to the liver and sometimes cirrhosis – a long-term liver scarring condition. In severe cases, liver failure can result in death. The risk of developing ARLD is greater for people who consume more than the recommended alcohol limits, generally exceeding 14 units of alcohol per week.
According to the Drinkaware report in the UK, one in three people in the UK drinks more than the weekly advised units of alcohol, making them vulnerable to ARLD. ARLD is also more common in men compared to women and in people aged over 40 years old, on average.
A common misconception surrounding ARLD is that it only affects heavy drinkers or alcoholics. However, this is not accurate, and anyone who drinks alcohol regularly in excess could develop ARLD, making it vital to understand the risks associated with harmful drinking patterns.
What You Need to Know About Treating This Alcohol-Induced Disease
It is essential to seek professional help if experiencing symptoms of liver damage, as the liver is a vital organ. Medical experts can offer numerous treatment options depending on the severity of the liver disease. For people with mild ARLD, the first step is to stop consuming alcohol entirely. This is the most effective way to prevent further liver damage from occurring.
For those with moderate to severe ARLD, medications such as corticosteroids, pentoxifylline, or in case of cirrhosis, a liver transplant may be necessary. Corticosteroids are often used to reduce inflammation in the liver, while pentoxifylline may help improve the body’s ability to remove toxins from the liver.
It is essential to follow the physician’s recommendations and attend follow-up appointments to monitor your liver condition’s progress, as early diagnosis and intervention can help prevent more severe conditions such as liver cirrhosis or failure.
Understanding the Symptoms and Effects of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
The disease’s symptoms may vary from person to person, and severe liver damage can exist without showing any symptoms initially. However, the most common symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes), vomiting, swollen abdomen, dark urine, itchy skin, and confusion. ARLD can have long-term implications, such as chemical imbalances in the body, poor nutrition, fluid accumulation, and liver cancer, which may be fatal if not adequately managed.
Breaking Down the Myths and Facts Surrounding This Common Alcohol Disease
There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding ARLD, which can lead to misunderstandings and confusion concerning the prevention and management of the disease. Many believe that alcohol is the sole cause of liver disease; however, there are other factors that can lead to liver damage, such as obesity or hepatitis.
Another prevalent myth surrounding ARLD is that it is reversible. While it’s true that some liver damage may be reversible, if liver cells die, scar tissue may form, which eventually leads to cirrhosis and irreversible damage. Furthermore, it’s important to note that liver damage does not always show symptoms, making it crucial to undergo screening and monitoring of your liver’s health, especially if you are at risk of liver disease.
This Disease Is Worsening and We Need to Start Addressing It More Seriously
The prevalence of ARLD has been increasing in recent years, with 20% of the UK’s population drinking excessively in 2020, a 17% increase compared to statistics over a decade ago. The trend is also noticeable worldwide, with increased cases of alcohol-induced liver disease in recent years. Long-term excessive alcohol consumption is associated with a range of health implications, including severe liver disease. It is vital for society and individuals to take ARLD risks seriously, and focus on preventative measures to avoid further complications arising from the disease.
Individuals can reduce their risk by following the recommended guidelines of no more than 14 units of alcohol per week to reduce the health impacts of alcohol. Moreover, alcohol should not be used to manage stress or escape mental health issues. Seeking professional help is important to deal with these issues rather than resorting to unhealthy drinking patterns.
Top Ways to Prevent and Manage Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
Preventing alcohol-induced liver disease starts by controlling alcohol intake. Some of the best ways to prevent the disease by reducing the risk factors are:
- Limiting alcohol intake within recommended guidelines.
- If seeking to lose weight, do it gradually and in a healthy way to reduce the risk of liver disease.
- Getting vaccinated against hepatitis B
- Having a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in physical exercise regularly.
For those already diagnosed with ARLD, some best ways to manage the condition include:
- Quit drinking alcohol entirely, as continued consumption can lead to severe complications and liver failure.
- Medication prescribed by a medical expert may help manage the disease’s symptoms and reduce further damage.
- Attend follow-up appointments to monitor your condition’s progress regularly
It is important to note that anyone who experiences symptoms such as yellowing of the skin/eyes, abdominal pain or swelling, or any unexplained changes should seek medical advice immediately.
Alcohol-related liver disease is a severe condition that can have long-term implications, and early intervention is crucial. Preventative measures such as limiting alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risks associated with the disease. Medical professionals can provide various treatments, including medication and liver transplant, depending on the severity of the liver damage. It is up to individuals to take responsibility and take proactive measures to take care of their liver health to prevent the disease’s onset and manage it more effectively.