Liver dysfunction and failure is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to a survey, nearly 2 million people in the country are living with alcohol-induced liver diseases. The number is growing and there are reasons to believe that it will become the next epidemic of the 21st century.
We have already discussed the effects of alcohol on the brain and the pancreas in the previous articles of this series. We saw that excessive alcohol consumption has serious consequences for both the organs. Effects on the liver are also equally dangerous.
It is known that steatosis, or fatty liver, that is caused by continuous alcohol consumption, even if just for a few days, is a common disease among drinkers. Steatosis is often a precursor to other serious diseases that are tough to recover from. The verdict is that alcohol is as dangerous for the liver as it is for the brain and pancreas.
Importance of liver for human bodies
Liver is an extremely important organ of the human body. It keeps the body productive and healthy. It not only stores the energy and nutrients from food, but also generates numerous proteins and enzymes necessary for functioning of the body and for warding off various diseases. Liver also washes off toxic substances present in food, including the toxicants in alcohol.
The liver digests and breaks down the food that is consumed. Alcohol also goes through the same process, resulting in generation of powerful toxins, such as acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde and other byproducts damage the liver cells, lead to liver inflammation and weaken the immune system. This can adversely affect the body’s metabolism and the functioning of other organs.
Dangers of excessive alcohol
Alcohol taken in a small amount does not affect the liver palpably. But when consumed in excess and for a long period, it can be dangerous. Fatty liver or buildup of fat in the liver, is the first stage of alcoholic liver disease. It may seem to be nothing more than a slight inflammation but can lead to alcoholic hepatitis and even cancer.
Alcoholic hepatitis may not show pronounced symptoms in some cases. But in others, it can cause fever, appetite loss and nausea. Abdominal pain and mental confusion may also arise. With increasing alcohol consumption, alcoholic hepatitis can dangerously enlarge the liver and result in a host of serious conditions, such as jaundice, excessive bleeding and clotting difficulties.
Fibrosis, another condition, causes scar tissue to build up in the liver. Alcohol impairs the break down and removal of scar tissues, and as a result liver function suffers. Continued alcohol consumption results in excessive scar tissue buildup. This condition is known as cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis prevents the liver from curing infections, washing off harmful toxins from the blood and absorbing food nutrients. It often results in serious ailments, including jaundice, insulin resistance, diabetes and liver cancer.
Many risk factors including genetics, gender, accessibility to alcohol and regular diet influence a person’s probability of developing liver-disease due to alcohol. Research shows that one in five of heavy drinkers usually develop alcoholic hepatitis, while one in four develop cirrhosis.
Alcohol destroys the liver and can even lead to death. Being aware of the harmful effects of alcohol may prevent people from giving in to this habit and stay sober.
Protect the liver and live longer
The best way to save the liver from alcohol is by abstaining from it. Alcohol consumption may seem like fun but can be fatal in the long run. If you find it tough to get rid of alcohol even after knowing its serious outcomes, you may have developed a dependence on it. However, you can check into one of the reputed alcohol addiction treatment centers for complete recovery.
Reach out to Alcohol Addiction Get Help Helpline to know about the alcohol addiction treatment centers in USA. Call at our 24/7 alcohol addiction treatment helpline number (866) 281-3014 for any assistance relating to alcohol consumption and diseases.
Read the other articles of the series “What lies beyond hangovers”: