ALCOHOL AND THE LIVER

Alcohol induced Liver Disease (ALD)?

Alcohol can be toxic to liver cells, and people who drink excess alcohol are at risk of significant liver damage. This includes inflammation in the liver. Prolonged inflammation can result in significant liver scarring.

 

How much alcohol is safe?

The latest UK guidelines advise that both men and women should drink less than 14 units/week. This should be spread over 3 or more days. This guidance is based on reducing all ill-health caused by alcohol, not just liver disease. For further information of how to calculate units and detailed guidelines see www.drinkaware.co.uk

How is ALD diagnosed?

ALD can be diagnosed when a patient who drinks excess alcohol is found to have abnormal liver tests or liver imaging. Some patients present acutely with jaundice or other complications of liver damage.

Does ALD progress?

If excess alcohol consumption continues, the scarring caused by alcohol related inflammation become very extensive, and this is called cirrhosis. This has significant negative health consequences. In fact, in the UK, alcohol is the leading cause of cirrhosis.

Can ALD be treated?

There is no specific medication for the liver damage caused by ALD. The main focus of management is reducing alcohol consumption, and in those with advanced liver scarring, stopping alcohol altogether. People with cirrhosis need regular review with a specialist to monitor for complications. There are many local resources dedicated to helping people quit/control drinking, and these can usually be accessed through GPs.

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