Alcohol is a legal drug in most countries and also the most ingested drug worldwide. We often underestimate the negative impact it has on the body, or we may not even realize it. For example, few people are familiar with the condition of alcoholic hepatitis.
Alcoholic hepatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the liver as a result of drinking alcohol. It is an asymptomatic injury, but can cause irreversible damage to the liver in the long term and is even associated with liver cancer.
The fact that it is asymptomatic makes it almost impossible to calculate the incidence of this disease. However, we know that almost 35% of all people with alcohol dependence suffer from it. In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about alcoholic hepatitis.
What is alcoholic hepatitis?
Alcoholic hepatitis consists of an inflammation of the liver, as we mentioned above. It is usually caused by a prolonged and daily intake of alcohol. This inflammation causes damage to the liver that can become irreversible if you do not stop your alcohol habit.
Researchers estimate that you need to drink a daily amount of alcohol that varies by gender for this condition to appear. That is, men who drink between 30 and 60 ml of alcohol a day (3 to 6 standard drinks) for 10 years will most likely develop this pathology.
For women, drinking between 20 and 40 ml a day (2 to 4 standard drinks) is enough. This difference is due to the fact that women have a lower tolerance for alcohol than men, since they have a lower capacity to metabolize alcohol in the body.
However, you must keep in mind that the risk is relative. If you drink several ml of alcohol, even in a shorter time, the risk increases significantly. The truth is that between 15 and 40% of people with alcoholic hepatitis develop advanced liver disease.
What are the symptoms?
Alcoholic hepatitis can be symptomatic, depending on how much it affects the liver. Many people are asymptomatic and doctors can only detect this damage through blood tests.
However, jaundice often occurs when the disease is symptomatic. This consists of yellowing of the skin because bilirubin accumulates in the blood. Other common symptoms are nausea and vomiting or loss of appetite.
This means that people with this disorder are often malnourished. In addition , alcohol in itself causes the appetite to decrease, so both factors strengthen each other. Another common sign is a feeling of weakness and fatigue.
The problem is that alcoholic hepatitis can lead to liver failure as it develops. It is also associated with liver steatosis, cirrhosis of the liver, and even an increased risk of developing liver cancer.
How do doctors diagnose and treat alcoholic hepatitis?
To diagnose alcoholic hepatitis , the doctor must know exactly how much alcohol the person consumes daily. In addition, they usually perform various tests, such as blood tests, liver ultrasound or other imaging tests.
The treatment mainly consists of stopping drinking. If this is not enough, a doctor may in some cases recommend corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation, or a liver transplant may even be necessary.
Alcoholic hepatitis: Alcohol is a very harmful substance
One thing to keep in mind is that alcohol is a very harmful substance for your body. Since it is socially acceptable to drink alcohol, we tend to downplay the effect. However, we should try to prevent conditions such as alcoholic hepatitis.
To do this, try drinking alcohol in moderation. If you have hepatitis C, also remember that drinking alcohol increases the risk of more serious liver disease. Finally, it is important to know that there are many treatments and ways to overcome alcohol dependence.