Alcoholic hepatitis is inflammation of the liver as a result of prolonged exposure to alcohol. It is possible that heavy drinkers may not contract this serious disease. Persons who even binge just once or are moderate drinkers can develop this disorder.
The liver is the filter and factory for the body, performing many vital functions like processing nutrients, producing bile and blood-clotting substances. Even though the liver can regenerate itself, serious, possibly even irreversible damage can occur if exposure to toxins is constant.
The damage incurred from this condition often can be reversed once drinking is discontinued. If this does not happen it is likely to evolve into cirrhosis and liver failure. While causes for why alcoholic hepatitis develops are unknown, it is clear that if one has this complication they will have to abstain from alcohol and other harmful substances the liver. Some people may develop such extensive damage that they may require a liver transplant as a choice of treatment.
At first alcoholic hepatitis in milder forms will not be noticeable in regard to symptoms. As the disease advances and the liver develop more damage, the following signs and symptoms will possibly develop:
Nausea with vomiting, possibly bloody
Tenderness in the abdomen with pain
Swelling in the abdomen from fluid accumulation
Jaundicing of the skin and eyes
Dryness of the mouth
Unusual, sudden weight gain
These symptoms can change, as the disease becomes more severe, and will possibly worsen if the individual pursues a bout of binge drinking.
It should be clearly indicated that a doctor should be seen if one develops some or all of the signs and symptoms of this disease, including severe fatigue. Other dire symptoms like gastrointestinal bleeding or serious mental confusion indicate the need for emergency care. This is generally not a disease to mess around with.
It is unclear what role alcohol plays in liver damage, or why it occurs only in some excessive drinkers. There are a number of hypotheses. It is noteworthy concerning the liver’s ability to break down ethanol, the drug in alcoholic beverages including beer. This results in the production of highly toxic chemicals like acetaldehyde. These toxins induce inflammation that will destroy liver cells. Eventually, healthy liver tissue is replaced with scarring and tissue changing into small knots, interfering with the ability of the liver to function normally. Cirrhosis, irreversible scarring, is the final stage of this disease.