The Stages Of Alcoholic Liver Disease And How it's Treated

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The Stages Of Alcoholic Liver Disease And How it's Treated

The Stages Of Alcoholic Liver Disease And How it’s Treated

Alcoholic liver disease is the result of excessive alcohol consumption over a period of time. It’s a severe and fatal consequence of alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse over the years leads to the replacement of healthy liver tissue with scar tissue. Considered as one of the biggest reasons for acute liver damage, alcohol isn’t only life-hanging but can also cause liver failure. Excessive consumption of alcohol can affect scarring of the liver and can cause ALD (alcohol-related conditions).

ALD occurs in three stages viz. Fatty Liver, Alcoholic Hepatitis, and Liver Cirrhosis.

Fatty Liver – It’s the first stage of ALD, and is also known as steatosis. Fatty Liver is a largely prevalent liver disease, which is characterized by an excessive accumulation of fat inside the liver cells. It makes it hard for the liver to serve properly. Heavy drinkers generally get to the fatty liver stage in their early years of alcohol abuse. This is reversible if alcohol use is stopped.

Alcoholic Hepatitis – The alternate stage of ALD, Alcoholic Hepatitis is characterized by the inflammation of the liver leading to the degeneration of liver cells quickly. This stage might last for some years but will ultimately progress to absolute liver damage if the patient continues to drink. In critical cases, it can lead to life-changing complications like liver cirrhosis and absolute liver damage.

Jaundice is the most common symptom in this stage along with the following
Loss of appetite
Abdominal tenderness
Fatigue and weakness
Weight loss

Liver Cirrhosis – Liver cirrhosis is the last and final stage of Alcoholic Liver Disease where permanent scarring of healthy liver tissue occurs. It’s a severe condition and an unrecoverable one. A patient with liver cirrhosis will witness liver failure symptoms, along with the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis
Fluid accumulation in the tummy
Spleen blowup
Bleeding from veins

What Are The Treatment Options For Alcoholic Liver Disease?

Complete abstinence from alcohol is the most important remedial intervention for people with Alcoholic Liver Disease. Abstinence from alcohol reduces the risk of further damage to the liver, but it also provides it with a chance to recover. Patients suffering from ALD should fully refrain from drinking, thereby improving the outgrowth & histological features of hepatic injury. They should give their body a chance to reduce portal pressure and drop progression to cirrhosis. It ultimately helps to improve survival at all ALD stages.

Nutritional Therapy
One of the major complications of ALD is malnutrition, especially in patients who are on the alternate stage of alcoholic hepatitis. In patients with ALD, protein-calorie malnutrition is highly prevalent. Patients in any stage of alcoholic liver disease must consult a hepatologist and get started with nutritional therapy at the earliest. It can help in alleviating the symptoms and improving the present stage of the liver.

medicinals (Pharmacological Therapy)
For ALD patients, a hepatologist is likely to prescribe various drugs and medications after precisely screening the symptoms and stages of the disease.

Liver Transplant
A liver transplant may be the only treatment option in severe cases of ALD where the liver has stopped performing, and there’s no improvement even after the patient stops drinking. The consideration for a liver transplant is different, and it’s only taken into account when the patient has developed complications of cirrhosis or if the body doesn’t respond to other treatments including medications. Still, ALD is one of the most common indications of a liver transplant.

It’s absolutely vital for the person with ALD to fully abstain from alcohol if they want to improve their chances of survival. A change in lifestyle is necessary for the life of a person suffering from alcoholic liver disease. In case of liver failure due to advanced stages of ALD, only a liver transplant can save the person. So, it’s important to start today and abstain from alcohol altogether. You can also visit the hospital which provides the best liver transplant in Pune for further information.


Dr. Ninad Deshmukh