What to Do If Someone Shows Symptoms of Alcoholic Hepatitis?
Clinically Reviewed by:
11 January, 2023
Lifestyle disorders are the prime reason for degraded liver health worldwide. One such disorder is alcohol abuse, which leads to alcoholic hepatitis.
Alcohol addiction disturbs the normal, healthy functioning of life in many ways. Alcoholic hepatitis is highly damaging to the body and causes several other associated physical ailments. Scroll through this article to know more about this symptom of severe alcoholism, its treatment, and how to avoid it.
What is Alcoholic Hepatitis?
Alcoholic hepatitis refers to the inflammation in the liver due to the overconsumption of alcohol. If someone drinks alcohol heavily for many years, that person will likely develop this disease. Furthermore, the occurrence of alcoholic hepatitis is determined by the severity of alcohol consumption in individuals.
However, people who drink occasionally may also suffer from alcoholic hepatitis.
What are the Causes of Alcoholic Hepatitis?
The food and drink one consumes pass through the liver for processing. The enzymes from the liver break these complex food elements into smaller parts and help to digest them properly. Further in this process, the nutrients and toxic elements from these foods get separated.
Hence, the liver can only break a small amount of alcohol into smaller components every hour. Any disruption in this process causes physical hazards. Therefore the reasons for alcoholic hepatitis are as follows:
The inability of the liver to break down alcohol products
Inflammation due to drinking alcohol causes serious damage to liver tissues
Continuous overconsumption of alcohol causes severe inflammation
Thus, all of these combined together worsen the health of our liver and raise the chances of alcoholic liver diseases.
What are the Symptoms of Alcoholic Hepatitis?
The liver is the second largest organ that keeps our body free from toxins. Excessive intake of alcohol cause liver dysfunction and accumulation of toxins in the body. This causes serious physical issues, which are considered threatening signs of alcoholic hepatitis.
These signs are as follows:
Appetite loss is one of the apparent symptoms of this disease. Alcoholic hepatitis causes liver dysfunction, so it fails to produce digestion enzymes. Thus, the affected people lose their regular appetite.
Excessive alcohol consumption causes inflammation in the liver and stomach. It also creates wounds in the liver and intestine. Thus, patients face severe pain in the lower abdomen area.
As liver function disrupts due to alcohol, people lose their appetite, and eventually, they face weight loss issues.
Unnatural vomiting and vomiting blood is also a sign of alcoholic hepatitis. This occurs due to extreme dysfunction in the body due to alcohol.
In the later stage of hepatitis, one may notice the signs of jaundice. They will start having yellowish skin, eyes, and other symptoms like fever and fatigue.
Thrombocytopenia is unnatural bleeding that occurs due to the decreased production of platelets by the bone marrow. Dysfunction in the liver decreases the production of Thrombopoietin, which supports bone marrow to produce platelets and leads to this disease. However, it is an advanced stage of alcoholic hepatitis.
Accumulation of fats is a result of this alcoholic liver disease. Thus, people get swollen and fatty livers, which harms overall health.
Apart from these, there are some more symptoms, such as
Liver and kidney failure in the acute stage
What to Do if Someone Shows Symptoms of Alcoholic Hepatitis?
Alcoholic hepatitis is a stage of alcoholic liver disease where people face severe physical ailments that need immediate medical attention. However, first, it should be appropriately diagnosed before starting the treatment.
Alcoholic Hepatitis Diagnosis
The diagnosis process for this disease is as follows:
Liver function studies
Liver Biopsy: A liver biopsy is for understanding the adverse condition of the liver. Doctors take a small tissue from the liver and check microscopic details to understand the potential threats of this disease.
MRI: MRI or magnetic resonance imaging is a thorough check-up with the help of radio frequency to understand internal damages in detail.
Doctors will run a couple of blood tests to understand the following
Tests of other chemicals
Abdomen USG: Radiation-free USG or ultrasound is needed to understand the internal situation of the liver and digestion system.
CT Scan: CT scan gives a more detailed analysis of internal body parts so doctors can point out damages due to the consumption of alcohol.
Alcoholic Hepatitis Treatment
The treatment procedure for this disease is as follows:
Refrain from Alcohol
The first and foremost step to treat alcoholic hepatitis is to stop consuming alcohol. Hence, for an addict, it is quite hard to quit alcohol in one go. Thus, the caregivers of the addicts should take help from an experienced alcohol addiction treatment center.
In addition, this will have severe physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, so dual diagnosis and treatment are also necessary. Further, it will heal patients both physically and mentally and quicken recovery.
Dietary Changes and Medication
Dietary changes are another important step along with medication in treating alcoholic hepatitis. Sometimes, due to overconsumption of alcohol, people indulge in faulty diet schedules. As a result, they start eating less, leading to malnutrition.
Hence, due to malnutrition, the human body becomes weak, and medicines may also not work. So physicians will prescribe a nutrient-rich diet for every individual with alcoholic hepatitis.
In an advanced stage of acute alcoholic hepatitis, if the liver stops functioning, a liver transplant is needed. However, post-liver transplant life can be challenging for patients as this would require maintaining a proper lifestyle. Otherwise, liver function disorder may occur, which can be fatal.
Thus, after a liver transplant, one should be under strict health surveillance and lifelong commitment to meet all criteria for maintaining a healthy liver.
For complete recovery from alcoholic hepatitis, lifestyle changes are essential. The lifestyle changes that doctors may prescribe are as follows:
Keeping a healthy body weight
Maintain a healthy exercise schedule
Having protected sexual intercourse
Taking life-saving vaccines for hepatitis
Complete avoidance of drugs and toxic foods
Counseling: Counselling and behavioral treatment are important steps for treating alcoholic hepatitis. Overconsumption of alcohol does not only harm the body but also harms brain cells. Thus, people start getting mental issues, anxiety, anger disorder, confusion, etc. These all can refrain a person from taking medicines and being under an alcohol treatment program. In this scenario, caregivers should take patients to proper counselors to motivate them to take medicines.
Tips for Alcoholic Hepatitis Prevention
There are certain tips to prevent the adversity of alcoholic hepatitis. These are as follows:
The liver can only break a small amount of alcohol per hour. So, people should be aware of their alcohol consumption and keep it to two drinks a day. This applies to healthy adults under the age of 65. Further, women and men above 65 should reduce this daily quantum to one drink.
Refrain from Mixing Alcohol and Medication
It is not acceptable for patients to consume alcohol during the treatment process. This can lead to more adversity, so patients should confirm with the doctors whether they can take medicines and continue drinking simultaneously. Besides, checking the labels of medicines is also necessary for this information.
Protection from Hepatitis
Protection from hepatitis is important to reduce the effects of alcoholic hepatitis. These vaccines are pretty much available, and one should be aware enough to take these on time for own good. If people do not take these vaccines properly, they may face serious complications like liver cirrhosis. These vaccines are also helpful in reducing the alcoholic hepatitis death rate.
Things to Remember About Alcoholic Hepatitis
Some key facts about alcoholic hepatitis are as follows:
This disease causes the death of liver cells
Lifestyle disorders and an unhealthy diet can make a human body vulnerable to this disease
Internal bleeding, ascites, infections, and even liver cancer can happen due to alcoholic hepatitis.
Alcoholic hepatitis may also occur in moderate drinkers
A substance abuse program is necessary for these patients
Alcoholic hepatitis exerts adverse effects on the human body; if the patient does not get proper treatment, it can result in death. The article has listed all the necessary details about this disease and also has mentioned treatment procedures for comprehensive understanding. However, one should consult an expert for more information on alcoholic hepatitis.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the relationship between alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis?
Alcoholic hepatitis leads to severe cell damage and scars in liver tissues. If patients do not get proper treatment, it turns into cirrhosis. This progressive stage of alcoholic liver disorder is generally followed by alcoholic hepatitis.
What are the medications to reduce liver inflammation?
Medicines to treat alcoholic hepatitis are Corticosteroids and Penotoxyfylline. Both are short-term steroids to increase the survival rate of alcoholic hepatitis patients.
What are the risk factors of alcoholic hepatitis?
The general alcoholic hepatitis risk factors are genetics, obesity, ethnicity, binge drinking, etc. In addition, women are more prone to develop alcoholic liver diseases because of the different processing of alcohol in their bodies.
When to see a doctor for alcoholic hepatitis?
Patients should consult a doctor if they notice symptoms like high fever, shivering, extremely itchy skin, red palms, muscle weakness, swelling in the abdomen, and black stool. Further, they should also take help from rehab for alcohol addiction to control their drinking habit.
What is hepatic encephalopathy?
A hepatic liver can not restrain toxins from the body. Thus, excessive toxin buildup in your body may damage brain function. This further leads to a state of confusion, drowsiness, etc., called hepatic encephalopathy.