LIVER DISEASE AND CIRRHOSIS
From fatty liver to cirrhosis
Our liver helps process the alcohol we consume and is the main place where alcohol is metabolised.
Regularly drinking too much alcohol can result in liver tissue being slowly damaged and replaced by scar tissue.
A fatty or enlarged liver is the early stages of liver disease. Reducing or stopping drinking will be recommended by health professionals to allow the liver to improve. At this stage the damage is usually reversible after a period of not drinking (typically two weeks).
With prolonged alcohol misuse the liver eventually may not be able to heal itself and this can lead to serious problems, even death.
Cirrhosis is the final phase of chronic liver disease. The rates of death due to alcohol related liver damage is on the rise.
Fatty liver rarely causes any symptoms and is usually detected during blood tests. It is a warning sign that the liver is not coping. However, symptoms of cirrhosis include:
Feeling tired and weak
Loss of appetite
Loss of sex drive
Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
Swelling in tummy or legs
Speak to your GP about a liver function test if you’re experiencing worrying symptoms.
While there is currently no treatment for cirrhosis, it is possible to slow progress of the disease. Life expectancy improves in cases where the person makes the decision to abstain from alcohol. For dependent drinkers getting support from the local alcohol treatment service is recommended.
There are many complications from a liver disease including:
Encephalopathy, which is a build-up of toxins in the brain
Ascites, which is fluid build-up in the abdominal lining
Associated kidney failure
Increased risk of contracting infections