What Happens to Your Liver When You Drink Too Much?

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Alcohol use on special occasions has become a long-standing habit that is indispensable in many regions. However, it is alarming now that drinking has become a matter of concern. Drinking too much alcohol in the long run will not only lead to social problems but also causes damages to health, especially in liver diseases.

How do you absorb alcohol?

When drinking, alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream through the gastric and intestinal mucosa. All blood in the digestive tract must pass through the liver before returning to the heart. Therefore, the liver is the concentration of the highest alcohol concentration. The liver cells have an enzymatic system that converts and transforms alcohol through a series of chemical reactions that eventually produce CO2 and water, which is released into the urine and into the lungs.

But the ability of the liver is limited, it can only handle a certain amount of alcohol every hour. Through studies, scientists recommend limiting alcohol to 1 to 2 international units per day, of which 1 unit = 25ml alcoholic beverage 40 degrees, or 50ml alcoholic beverage 20 degrees.

On the contrary, alcoholics and anyone over-drinking, the harmful effects begin to occur: fatty liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis are the three alcoholic diseases that can occur at the same time, or progress slowly over time. 

Fatty liver

Fatty liver is fatty accumulation in liver cells, which occurs in people who drink heavily. This condition can recede when the patient stops taking it. Conversely, if they continue to drink alcohol, it will progress to hepatitis.

Alcoholic hepatitis can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms usually are asymptomatic, if there are only abnormal liver enzymes detected in the blood. Some cases become chronic, causing gradual destruction of liver cells, eventually leading to cirrhosis. More severe symptoms are fatigue, signs of jaundice, sometimes pain in the liver. Stage of acute hepatitis attacks with manifestation: Patients rapidly lead to hepatic coma; Dark yellow skin, blood clotting disorder, cognitive impairment, coma, gastrointestinal bleeding, high mortality rates.

The management of this disease is to provide adequate nutrition balance or to be administered through the gastric tube and steroid treatment.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a gradual fibrosis of the liver, which completely loses its function. This process is progressively increasing, fibrous tissue affects normal structure and regeneration of liver cells. Hepatocellular cells, in turn, are injured, die and the tissue continues to replace. Over time, the liver loses its function. The fibrous tissue also has the potential to interfere with the normal flow of blood to the liver. Scar tissue formation is permanent, irreversible. At first, the loss of some liver cells did not affect the patient, no symptoms appeared. But when the liver cells are destroyed more and more, fibrous tissue rises, disease begins to manifest. The same symptoms as hepatitis mentioned above, the only difference is that the progression of cirrhosis progresses more slowly. In people with severe, long-term cirrhosis, portal vein thrombosis syndrome usually develops with symptoms such as ascites, collateralisation. The most dangerous thing about cirrhosis is that it is one of the principal reason which leads to liver cancer

Cirrhosis can occur due to many other causes such as viruses, hereditary diseases, metabolic disorders, but the highest percentage are alcoholics over 10 years, at a rate of 10%.

In addition to the above symptoms, there are tests that help diagnose diseases such as blood tests for elevated ALT, increased ALP, decreased albumin, hyperbilirubinemia, ultrasonography showing liver damage; Liver cell biopsy helps see scar tissue structure in cirrhosis or typical type of hepatitis.

Treatment and prevention

It is necessary to stop drinking. Then, the patient should be advised on diet, vitamin and mineral supplements that are required for a while.

It is obligatory to reduce the aspirate, diuretics, and antibiotics for patients with ascites. When the liver is no longer active, only one remain remedy is a liver transplant.

Prevention: Never let your illness happen before you start drinking. You should quit or limit alcohol, within the recommended limits: men only drink no more than 4 units/day and less than 21 units/week. Female: the limit is 3 units/day and 14 units/week. For pregnant women: absolutely not drink, pregnant women still use alcohol, it must be less than 1-2 units/week and not be drunk.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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