Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Facts about Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

As noted by the American Liver Foundation, alcohol-related liver disease is a “common, but preventable disease” caused by “excessive consumption of alcohol.”  There are three types of liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption:

  • Fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Alcohol-related cirrhosis

If caught early enough, liver damage may be reversed if a person stops drinking.  Otherwise, most heavy drinkers will develop some form of liver cancer.  The most common alcohol-related liver disorder is fatty liver.  It is when an excess of fat builds up around the liver.  The condition is preventable, as are all other forms of alcohol-related liver disease and can be reversed through abstinence from alcohol.

Continued heavy alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic hepatitis.  “Alcoholic hepatitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the liver accompanied by the destruction of liver cells.” Complications from this form of liver disease can be life-threatening.  Over 1/3 of heavy drinkers will develop alcoholic hepatitis.

The most severe form of alcohol-related liver disease is alcohol-related cirrhosis.  Cirrhosis occurs when nonliving scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue.  People who have been drinking heavily for 10 years or more are at a greater risk for developing alcohol-related cirrhosis.  Symptoms of this disease can be fatal including high blood pressure in the liver, bleeding from veins in the esophagus and an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.

If you suspect you have liver damage, you should be seen by a doctor immediately.  Stopping drinking may help reverse some of the effects that alcohol can have on the liver.  It is important to speak with a medical professional if you are a heavy drinker or engage in binge drinking regularly.