Liver Disease: Expert discusses risks and symptoms
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“Drinking to excess has detrimental effects on your health, and regular episodes of binge drinking can potentially lead to liver disease and heart and kidney problems,” said Sumaiya Patel, Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U. As the name suggests, alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is triggered by the popular drink.
Although ARLD doesn’t cause many symptoms until it has advanced, there are some symptoms that might occur.
One sign can crop up when it’s time to eat but you don’t feel like it.
According to the NHS, loss of appetite can occur once your liver has been “severely damaged”.
Mrs Patel said: “Because alcoholic drinks tend to be high in calories, they can make you feel fuller and less hungry.
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“Excessive amounts of alcohol can also send the metabolic process into overdrive, prolonging a person’s ability to feel hunger.”
This could leave you feeling without the desire to eat, pointing to the underlying issue.
However, this sign isn’t the only symptom pointing to alcohol-related liver disease.
From tummy pain to feeling unwell, there are other red flags which could point to the condition.
Mrs Patel shared other symptoms linked to ARLD, including:
- Abdominal (tummy) pain
- Feeling sick
- Feeling generally unwell.
As the condition doesn’t cause symptoms in all cases, ARLD can get picked up during tests for other conditions.
The NHS advises: “If you regularly drink alcohol to excess, tell your GP so they can check if your liver is damaged.”
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What causes alcohol-related liver damage?
The liver belongs to one of the most complex organs in your body.
Being able to filter toxins, regulate cholesterol and helping to fight infection, the organ has various functions.
It’s really good at regeneration as well. Each time your liver has to filter alcohol, some of its cells die but you can also develop new ones.
The expert said: “The liver is resilient and may be capable of regenerating itself, but prolonged misuse of alcohol can result in serious and sometimes permanent liver damage.
“Excessive consumption of alcohol is one of the most common causes of liver disease, which can lead to cirrhosis, scarring of the liver, and eventually liver failure, a life-threatening condition.”
ARLD has become quite common in the UK, with the number of patients rising over the last decade.
Fortunately, there’s a way to manage the condition. Mrs Patel said: “Avoiding too much salt is also important, as salty food can put more strain on your liver and increases the risk of fluid build-up and swelling in your feet, tummy and legs.
“In the most serious ARLD cases, a liver transplant might be necessary.
“Those worried about their drinking or the drinking habits of others should speak with their GP or local alcohol-help services.”
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