Fatty liver disease: Early signs caused by drinking large amounts of alcohol

Chris Evans reveals he's given up drinking alcohol midweek

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Indeed, it is estimated that alcohol-related fatty liver disease develops in 90 percent of people who drink more than four units per day, according to Drinkaware. That is the equivalent of two medium glasses of wine, or less than two pints of regular strength beer. Fortunately it is also reversible by reducing your long-term alcohol consumption, though if you develop cirrhosis it is not.

Drinkaware says that a fatty liver develops because of a build-up of fat in the cells in the liver, and drinking a large amount of alcohol, even for just a few days, can lead to a build-up of fat in the liver.

The NHS says that if you do experience early symptoms of ARLD, “these are often quite vague” such as abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

You may also find that you experience fatigue, feeling sick, diarrhoea and feeling generally unwell.

As the liver becomes more severely damaged, more obvious and serious symptoms can develop.

The third stage of alcohol-related liver disease is cirrhosis – where healthy liver tissue has been replaced permanently by scar tissue. This is the result of long-term, continuous damage to the liver.

Sadly, there is always a shortage of donor organs according to Drinkaware. Moreover, people who are not abstinent cannot usually access liver transplants in the UK.

The UK Chief Medical Officers say that your liver will start shedding excess fat if you stop drinking for at least two weeks, and after that you ensure you do not exceed low-risk drinking guidelines.

Unfortunately, if you don’t reduce your drinking at this stage, in up to a third of people with this condition, it will progress to the much more serious stages.

Advanced signs include jaundice, very itchy skin, significant weight loss, and weakness and muscle wasting.

Some people also experience confusion and memory problems, trouble sleeping (insomnia) and changes in personality “caused by a build-up of toxins in the brain”.

People in advanced stages sometimes also find that they are passing black, tarry poo and vomiting blood as a result of internal bleeding.

You may also notice increased sensitivity to alcohol and drugs because the liver cannot process them.

If you have alcohol-related fatty liver disease, your GP should now assess you to see how likely it is you have fibrosis or cirrhosis using a blood test score.

You can contact your GP for advice if you have a history of regular alcohol misuse, which is when you drink in a way that’s harmful, or when you’re dependent on alcohol.

The NHS says: “They’ll be able to discuss the services and treatments available.”

The British Liver Trust says that every time we drink alcohol, the liver has to filter it in order to break it down and remove it from the body. Some liver cells die during this process, which is why the liver needs a break from alcohol to allow it to regenerate and make new cells.

It notes: “Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time means the liver doesn’t get a chance to recover. This can result in serious and permanent damage.”

The charity notes that if you have been regularly consuming very large amounts of alcohol you may be advised to follow a high-protein, high-calorie diet to compensate for the energy lost when you stop drinking alcohol.

Nonetheless, it notes: “Some people with alcohol-related liver disease are overweight, as they continue to eat as normal whilst also drinking large amounts of alcohol.”

If you have a fatty liver, and don’t stop or reduce your intake of alcohol, you are also at a high risk of developing alcohol-related hepatitis.

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