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When the liver breaks down alcohol, it generates additional toxins within the body. Over time, excessive consumption of alcohol can result in liver cell injury and inflammation, leading to signs of fatty liver disease. Dr Scot Thomas confirmed: “For many people, fatty liver disease could point to signs of alcohol abuse or addiction.” The medical expert also highlighted those at most risk – “heavy drinkers who are obese, women, or [those who] have certain genetic mutations”.
“Alcoholic fatty liver disease is usually a silent disease with few or no symptoms,” he verified.
However, if you do have symptoms, “you may feel tired or have some aches in the upper right side of your abdomen”, the doctor affirmed.
In the UK, binge drinking is drinking more than:
- Eight units of alcohol in a single session for men
- Six units of alcohol in a single session for women
- Six units is two pints of five percent strength beer or two large (250ml) glasses of 12 percent wine
- Eight units is five bottles (330ml) of five percent strength beer or five small (125ml) glasses of 13 percent wine
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also clarified what constitutes as binge drinking.
For females, drinking four or more alcoholic drinks within a couple of hours of each other, on at least one day in the past month, is binge drinking.
For males, this rings true for any man drinking five or more drinks in one day.
Anyone who drinks heavily for months or years puts themselves at risk for alcoholic fatty liver disease.
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This condition can be exacerbated by malnutrition, a poor diet, limited exercise, high blood pressure and obesity.
Why is alcoholic fatty disease dangerous?
The NHS warn of “portal hypertension” as a potential health complication of alcoholic fatty liver disease.
“It occurs when the blood pressure inside your liver has risen to a potentially serious level,” said the national health body.
A scarred liver makes it difficult for blood to travel through the organ, forcing blood to use smaller blood vessels instead.
As a result, these small blood vessels can weaken, split and bleed inside the body.
In addition, another danger of alcoholic fatty liver disease is the development of hepatic encephalopathy.
This is when the liver is unable to remove toxins from the body, which can lead to:
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle tremors
- Difficulty speaking
- In very serious cases, a coma
Furthermore, a build-up of fluid can develop in the tummy area, known as ascites.
A risk of infection in the fluid is linked to kidney failure and even death.
Fortunately, those who stop drinking completely can reverse the condition with the help of healthy lifestyle changes.
This includes eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Moreover, it requires regular exercise which can help reduce fat in the liver and help you to lose weight.
If you need support to cut down or to stop drinking, please call Drinkline’s confidential helpline on 0300 123 1110.
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