“This damage can lead to inflammation and scarring as the liver tries to repair itself” – known as oxidative stress.
As for toxins, alcohol can damage the intestines, enabling toxins from gut bacteria to move into the liver; this too causes inflammation and scarring.
Drinkaware warned: “People can spend 20 years damaging their liver and not feel any of the effects this is doing to them.”
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- Abdominal pains
Dr Jarvis commented: “Now, if you stop drinking, you can help reduce damage to your liver.”
If you don’t, signs that the disease has progresses include the following:
- Easy bruising
- Bleeding in the gut
- Jaundice (yellow skin)
- Increased sensitivity to alcohol
- Liver cancer
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, or abdomen
- Vomiting blood
- Loss of appetite
“If you drink too much alcohol, particularly over a long period, it’s a major cause of cirrhosis of the liver,” added Dr Jarvis.
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Anyone at this stage of the disease are highly recommended to become teetotal, which is complete abstinence from alcohol.
What if I have no symptoms?
“Evidence about how much and how often you need to drink to increase your chances of developing liver disease is unclear,” said Drinkaware.
“But all the research shows that the more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to develop liver disease.”
For example, around seven in 10 people with alcoholic fatty liver disease have an alcohol dependency problem.
In addition, being overweight can “exacerbate many of the mechanisms of liver damage caused by excessive drinking”.
Am I at risk of a fatty liver?
Alcohol interferes with the way liver handles fat, so drinking more than four pints daily for two weeks straight will lead to a fatty liver.
When a fatty liver emerges, you might feel a vague discomfort in the abdomen as the liver swells.
However, if you stop drinking for two weeks, the liver should start shedding the excess fat.
“But if you don’t change your drinking pattern, that fatty liver is the first stage of developing liver disease,” said Drinkaware.