Fatty liver disease: Stages of the disease with accompanying symptoms – how to quit
Liver Disease: Expert discusses risks and symptoms
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There is no doubt that if you want to live a healthy life disease free, alcohol consumption should be greatly reduced or even better completely abstained from. There are a variety of alcohol-related diseases which can be fatal and include fatty liver disease, cirrhosis or hepatitis. Successful treatment for alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) often depends on whether someone is willing to stop drinking alcohol and make changes to their lifestyle. Treatment for ARLD involves stopping drinking alcohol. This is known as abstinence, which can be vital, depending on what stage the condition is at. If you have fatty liver disease, the damage may be reversed if you abstain from alcohol for at least two weeks.
Priory consultant psychiatrist Dr Niall Campbell, a UK addiction expert based at the Priory’s Roehampton Hospital, said: “Alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition which can be caused by drinking a large amount of alcohol.
“Patients will generally have to be drinking heavily for several years before the condition develops.
“Liver cells are damaged by alcohol and its breakdown products, particularly with sustained drinking. It starts with alcoholic hepatitis or inflammation of the liver.
“This is a painless condition, and sufferers are not aware of it.
“As the liver becomes more inflamed, the cells become replaced by fat.
“If not checked, this can proceed to cirrhosis which is irreversible.
“Usually, fatty liver and hepatitis are reversible but require a patient to completely stop drinking.”
Dr Campbell continued: “In this case, the liver is likely to recover, depending on the damage, within a few months.
“However, if the patient has suffered from fatty liver or hepatitis and they start drinking again, it will become damaged within a few weeks.
“The condition of the liver is easily assessed by a blood test, called a Liver Function Test, which any GP can carry out.
“If it becomes slightly abnormal, you must stop drinking. In heavy drinkers if these tests are starting to become abnormal, it is a sign that the person needs to stop drinking.”
Alcoholic fatty liver disease can occur even after a short period of heavy drinking.
Symptoms are not usually present in this stage, though the American Liver Foundation reports some may feel weak or fatigued or notice discomfort in the right upper abdomen.
With cessation of alcohol use, drinkers can usually reverse liver disease in this stage.
If drinking continues, damage to the liver will not subside and will result in irreversible disease.
Dr Campbell listed the symptoms warning alcohol could be ruining your health and is becoming a potentially fatal disease include blotchy skin, dehydration causing poor sleep, weight gain, inability to focus or concentrate, tiredness, depression, high blood pressure.
“I say to patients at the Priory that they should assess alcohol’s true toll on their physical, mental and emotional health,” added Dr Campbell.
“Do you constantly feel lethargic and foggy-headed at work? Do you lose days to hangovers?
“Do you find it hard to kick-start yourself in the mornings?
“Thinking about these things will help you decide you really want to change, because the benefits of giving up alcohol are manifold.”
Stress relief and self-worth therapist, Laura Steventon said: “If alcohol is being used in your life as a coping mechanism and you want to give up, depending on the severity of the use of alcohol, I advise support.
“Tell people close to you that you are quitting, get an accountability partner, get therapy.
“We use alcohol to numb emotions that we don’t want to feel, so when we quit, we may start to have those feelings arise again, which could be too much for us to handle alone.
“Normally, the emotions that we want to numb are the hard, messy ones like feeling not good enough, feeling shame, guilt, regret, abandonment, loneliness, etc.
“These emotions are strong and without support may lead back to drinking or another coping strategy, often why someone will stop drinking, but start eating or become seemingly “obsessed” with working out.
“To stop drinking for good, healing the underlying emotions is key and whilst you are doing that adopting an attitude of self-compassion is vital.
“Having someone who supports you and understands that healing can be messy will help you not to berate yourself or become overtly controlling.”
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