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Alcohol Liver Disease: What Are The 3 Categories Of ALD?




The excessive use of alcohol can result in liver disease and harm several of your organs. The prevalence of ALD or alcoholic liver disease in a group of people is normally determined by the measurement of death rates from cirrhosis due to alcohol. This is the condition where healthy liver tissues are replaced gradually by scarred tissues. Such rates have went up at an alarming rate in recent years with death rates due to ALD going up from 3,236 (2002) to 4,400 (2008).

How much of Alcohol Can Cause Harm?

The amount of alcohol leading to liver damage varies between users. Furthermore, it is also true that:

  • The more alcohol you drink, the higher risk you have for developing ALD
  • Women are believed to be a lot more sensitive to the harm that alcohol brings than men
  • You may have genetically inherited a susceptibility to the negative effects of substance use
  • Regular use of alcohol as well as consuming alcohol outside meals can cause more harm than occasional drinking
  • Obesity can heighten your risk of developing Alcoholic Liver Disease. 

There are 3 variations of ALD

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

This condition occurs when fat accumulates in your liver due to the excessive use of alcohol. Fatty liver can occur in just 3 days of excessive ingestion of alcohol.

You may have a fatty liver without showing signs of liver disease besides fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Those who consume copious amounts of alcohol regularly also have a fatty liver.

Blood test results can reveal an elevation in the blood levels of ALT or AST or both. In general, a liver biopsy is used to certify diagnosis concerning a fatty liver. Alcoholic fatty liver is typically a benign condition that can be reversed by quitting on alcohol completely.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

If you have this condition, your liver will be inflamed because of excessive alcohol intake. The symptoms may not appear in some but can be severe in others. If symptoms are not showing, alcoholic hepatitis could be detected with a routine blood test.

You may also experience mild symptoms like a loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort and nausea. More severe symptoms include vomiting, fever and severe pain in the upper right abdomen.

A liver biopsy can also be used to detect alcoholic hepatitis and is usually an indication of the person developing alcoholic cirrhosis. Alcoholic hepatitis is also reversible by immediately abstaining from alcohol.

Alcoholic Cirrhosis

This condition scars your liver due to an excessive consumption of alcohol. It is characterized as a hard, dead and scarred tissue that takes the place of the soft healthy tissues. In the US, alcohol is the #1 cause of cirrhosis.

This condition tends to show up in people who don’t show signs of alcoholic hepatitis. In most cases, cirrhosis can be seen as the initial condition of a person who has an alcoholic liver disease.

The symptoms of cirrhosis are bleeding or bruising easily, fatigue, fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites), nausea, a loss of appetite, weight loss and swelling in the legs (edema).

A liver biopsy can establish the presence of cirrhosis. All those who are diagnosed with cirrhosis can develop liver cancer. Generally, those with this condition have a 15% overall risk of having liver cancer in his lifetime.

Alcoholic cirrhosis is irreversible and often leads to an end stage liver disease if left untreated. Those who abstain may improve their condition and prevent the condition from getting worse.

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