The symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease: Elevated ALT level
The liver is the second largest organ in the human body, it is located under the rib cage on the right. Its main function is to remove toxic substances from our blood. There are a number of substances that can harm our liver and damage liver cells, including: medications, alcohol, hepatitis viruses, fat, toxins such as heavy metals, etc.
Alcohol can destroy liver cells. The liver breaks down alcohol so that it can be removed from our body. The liver can become severely injured or damaged if you drink more alcohol than it can process. In the short term, the liver can heal itself and recover damaged liver cells, but if excessive alcohol is consumed in the long term, chronic liver injury may result, leading to serious liver problems.
There are three stages of alcohol-related liver disease:
Alcoholic fatty liver disease:
The early stage of alcohol-related liver diseases is alcoholic fatty liver disease Fat is accumulated in the liver cells At this stage, the level of ALT, a liver enzyme may be elevated. There may be other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and discomfort in the upper right abdomen, but they might not be obvious.
Many heavy drinkers and long term drinkers will develop alcoholic fatty liver disease, but the condition is usually reversible when they stop consuming alcohol.
The next stage is alcoholic hepatitis, which is characterised by fat deposition in liver cells, as well as inflammation and mild scarring of the liver, also known as fibrosis. Symptoms will be more obvious at this stage; patients may experience a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and jaundice. ALT will be further elevated to a higher level. About 35% of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis. It becomes harder to recover liver function even when alcohol consumption is ceased. Extra support to the liver cells and liver function is needed in order to prevent further damages.
Alcoholic cirrhosis is the advanced stage of alcohol related liver diseases. This stage is where most liver cells are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. Between 10 to 20 percent of heavy drinkers eventually develop cirrhosis. The risk of liver cancer is high and the condition is very difficult to be reversed.
- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.