Alcoholic Liver Cirrhosis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Alcoholic Liver Cirrhosis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Alcoholic Liver Cirrhosis?

The liver is a vital organ of the body. The main functions of the liver are – filtering the blood of toxins, breaking down proteins, and creating bile to help the body to absorb fats. When a person drinks alcohol in excessive quantity for the long term, then the liver’s healthy tissue start’s to replace with scar tissue. This is known as alcoholic liver cirrhosis. If most of the liver tissues are replaced with scar tissue then the liver cannot function properly.

It has been observed by the American Liver Foundation that between 10 – 20 % of heavy drinkers will develop this cirrhosis. It is the most advanced form of liver disease that is related to alcohol consumption. It can start with fatty liver disease, then progresses to alcoholic hepatitis, and then to alcoholic cirrhosis. It is also possible that a person can develop alcoholic liver cirrhosis without having alcoholic hepatitis.

What are the symptoms of Alcoholic Liver Cirrhosis?

Symptoms of alcoholic liver cirrhosis are observed in personages between  30 – 40. In the early stages, your body will be able to compensate for your liver’s limited function. As the disease growths, symptoms will become more visible.

The symptoms are similar to other alcohol-related liver disorders.

Symptoms include:

  • Jaundice
  • Portal hypertension
  • Skin itching (pruritus)

What Causes Alcoholic Liver Cirrhosis?

Repeated damage of cells and excessive alcohol consumption leads to alcoholic liver cirrhosis. When the liver tissue starts to scar, the liver cannot function properly. Because of which the body can’t produce sufficient proteins or filter toxins from the blood.

There are various causes of cirrhosis, but alcoholic liver cirrhosis is directly related to alcohol abuse.

How Would a Doctor Diagnose You with Alcoholic Liver Cirrhosis?

While a diagnosis of alcoholic liver cirrhosis, doctors first take a look at medical history and a person’s history of drinking. A doctor may conduct several tests to confirm cirrhosis. The results of these tests may show:

  • Anaemia
  • The high blood ammonia level
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Leukocytosis
  • Unhealthy liver tissue may be observed when a sample is removed from a biopsy and studied in a laboratory
  • The increased level of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is two times that of alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Lower blood magnesium levels
  • Lower blood potassium levels
  • Lower blood sodium levels
  • Portal hypertension

What is a treatment for alcoholic liver cirrhosis?

Liver specialists can cure some forms of liver disease with treatment, but alcoholic liver cirrhosis usually can’t be cured. But it is possible to slow down disease’s progress and reduce its symptoms.

  • The first step in treatment is to stop drinking. A doctor can recommend a hospital for a person to start the journey toward sobriety.
  • Medications:  Doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, calcium channel blockers, insulin, antioxidant supplements, and S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe).
  • Nutrition Counselling: Drinking alcohol can lead to malnutrition.
  • Extra protein: Patients often require extra protein in certain forms to reduce the risk of developing brain disease (encephalopathy).
  • Liver Transplant: Person should not drink alcohol at least six months before a liver transplant.

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