Know the basics
What is alcoholic hepatitis?
Alcoholic hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by alcohol. Alcoholic hepatitis can develop cirrhosis if the patient continues to drink. When cirrhosis occurs, normal liver tissues are destroyed and replaced by scar tissues. Gradually the liver will stop functioning. Alcoholic hepatitis is a serious disease and can lead to death.
How common is alcoholic hepatitis?
The disease usually occurs in people over 30 years of age and excessive drinking for long periods. Up to 35% of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis. And more than one third of them die within six months after the signs and symptoms start to appear. However, not all heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis are, and the disease can occur in people who only drink alcohol in moderation.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis?
The symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis often resemble symptoms of hepatitis. The first symptom is a rash, joint pain and feeling sick as flu. The alcohol may also be malnourished. These symptoms may not appear until the liver was severely damaged. As the disease progresses more severe, the symptoms may include jaundice; pale colored stools or clay; dark urine; body itching; high fever; abdominal swelling due to fluid; abdominal pain, soft and bloated; neurological disorders and may coma.
There may be other symptoms and signs are not mentioned. If you have any questions about these signs, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should see your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms mentioned above. If you feel you can not control the drinking habits or you want to quit this habit, ask the help of relatives or doctors. Status and condition can vary in many people. Always discuss with your doctor to be appointed diagnostic methods, treatment and the best treatment for you.
Know the causes
What causes alcoholic hepatitis?
Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by drinking too much alcohol for a long time. However, at the present it has not yet explained why not all alcoholics are at risk of alcoholic cirrhosis. Experts only know that the destruction caused by alcohol in the alcohol ethanol will produce highly toxic chemicals, such as acetaldehyde. These chemicals cause inflammation and destruction of liver cells. Gradually will form scars on the liver (called cirrhosis) and reduces the activity of the liver. Cirrhosis is the end stage of hepatitis caused by alcohol. Some other causes of this disease include:
- Malnutrition: those who drink heavily are malnourished due to alcohol restrict the absorption of nutrients, break down the protein, vitamins and good fats. Lack of nutrients leads to liver cell damage.
- All kinds of hepatitis: especially if you have hepatitis C and drinking habits, however much it has the ability to develop cirrhosis.
- Genetic factors: a mutation in certain genes may affect the metabolism of alcohol and increase the risk of liver disease and cancers related to alcohol and other complications of heavy drinking.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for alcoholic hepatitis?
The main factors that increase the risk of alcoholic hepatitis, including:
- Drinking alcohol: alcohol consumption is an important risk factor of hepatitis caused by alcohol. A study has found that the risk of developing liver cirrhosis increased when drinking than 60-80 ml per day for over 10 years for men and 20 ml for women.
- Gender: Women are often at risk of contracting hepatitis caused by alcohol than men. This difference may be due to differences in the way alcohol is digested in women.
- Genetic factors: many gene mutations have been identified that may affect the process of alcohol is broken down in the body. Suffering from one or more of these mutations might increase the risk of alcohol-induced hepatitis.
- Types of beverages: beer or hard liquor is more dangerous than wine.
Understand the diagnosis & treatments
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.
How is alcoholic hepatitis diagnosed?
The doctor will diagnose the disease based on a history of excessive alcohol abuse by patients. He also considers the results of blood tests and health examination to detect abnormal liver inflammation or enlargement. For accurate diagnosis, doctors can conduct a liver biopsy. The doctor will inject a needle through the skin and remove a small liver tissue for examination in a laboratory.
How is alcoholic hepatitis treated?
The treatment of hepatitis is indicative of support, the goal of treatment is to improve the overall health status and health promotion for patients. The most important one is to stop drinking. An alcohol detox program can help support better for the patient. Condition of malnutrition can be improved through reasonable diet with lots of carbohydrates and energy. For patients with severe malnutrition, they should be supplied with nutritional supplements. Eating less salt is also important to prevent abdominal aneurysms. You also need additional vitamins, especially vitamin B and folic acid. It may take several weeks to months for the liver to recover.
Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies help manage alcoholic hepatitis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with alcoholic hepatitis:
- Stop drinking.
- Find ways to treat alcoholism.
- Follow a reasonable and balance diet.
- Supply yourself with vitamins, especially vitamin B and folic acid.
- A good exercise program can help avoid fatigue.
- Call your doctor if you experience any symptoms after drinking for a long time, or drink too much alcohol.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: August 16, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 263.
Alcoholic hepatitis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcoholic-hepatitis/basics/causes/con-20026160. Accessed September 19, 2015.