Alcohol is a legal drug in most countries and also the most used drug worldwide. We tend to often underestimate its negative impact on the body or we may not even realize it. For example, few people know what alcoholic hepatitis is and what its risks are.
Alcoholic hepatitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver as a result of drinking alcohol. It is an asymptomatic lesion, but can cause irreversible damage to the liver in the long run and is even linked to the development of liver cancer.
The asymptomatic nature of alcoholic hepatitis makes it almost impossible to calculate its incidence. However, we know that nearly 35% of people addicted to alcohol suffer from this disease. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about alcoholic hepatitis.
What is alcoholic hepatitis?
As we have already mentioned, alcoholic hepatitis consists of inflammation of the liver. It is usually due to prolonged and daily alcohol consumption. This inflammation can cause irreversible damage to the liver if alcohol habits are not changed.
Researchers estimate that the amount of daily alcohol consumed to cause this disease varies by gender. Men who drink 30-60 g of alcohol a day (3-6 normal drinks) for 10 years are sure to get this disease.
For women, it is enough that they drink 20-40 g per day (2-4 normal drinks). This difference is due to the fact that women have a lower alcohol tolerance than men because they have a lower ability to metabolize alcohol in the body.
However, keep in mind that the risk is relative. If you drink more alcohol even in the shorter term, the risk increases significantly. In people with 15-40% alcohol hepatitis, the disease progresses to liver disease.
Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis
Alcoholic hepatitis can be asymptomatic or symptomatic depending on how much it affects the liver. Many people get alcoholic hepatitis asymptomatic and doctors can detect this damage with blood tests.
As a symptom, however, the disease often causes jaundice. The skin turns yellow as bilirubin accumulates in the blood. Other common symptoms include nausea and vomiting, and loss of appetite.
This means that people with that disease are often malnourished. Alcohol itself also causes a decrease in appetite, so both factors reinforce each other. Feelings of weakness and fatigue are another common sign.
The problem is that as alcoholic hepatitis progresses, it can cause liver failure. It is also associated with fatty liver, cirrhosis and even an increased risk of liver cancer.
How does a doctor diagnose alcoholic hepatitis and how is it treated?
To diagnose alcoholic hepatitis, the doctor needs to know exactly how much alcohol the patient consumes per day. He also usually performs various tests such as blood tests, liver ultrasound or other imaging methods.
Treatment mainly consists of stopping drinking. If this is not enough, your doctor may in some cases recommend the use of corticosteroids to reduce inflammation or, if necessary, even a liver transplant.
Alcohol is really a harmful drug
It is important to keep in mind that alcohol is actually a harmful drug to the body. Because alcohol use is socially acceptable, we tend to downplay its impact. However, we should try to prevent diseases like alcoholic hepatitis.
So if you drink alcohol, try to do it in moderation. If you also have hepatitis C, remember that alcohol increases your risk of developing more serious liver disease. It is important to know that there are many different treatments for alcohol dependence.