I have seen firsthand the negative impact that long-term alcoholism has on a person’s health. Back a few months ago, I was able to reconnect with a friend. Shortly after reconnecting, he had what he called a “brain seizure”. When I finally saw him, he looked so bad, so sick, and I noticed that his stomach was bloated. Well, his wife finally told me that he is an alcoholic and that recently he decided to just stop drinking on his own. This is why he had a brain seizure. She also told me that he has cirrhosis of the liver, which is why his stomach was so bloated. Late-stage cirrhosis of the liver causes the person to retain a lot of fluid, especially in the abdomen. The only treatment for this is to have a paracentesis, which is where they drain the excess fluid off with a large needle. It’s a very painful procedure and process, but necessary to stay alive. Like so many people across the country, I lost a family member as a result of long-term alcoholism. She was told over and over that she had to stop drinking or that she was going to die. She also had late-stage cirrhosis of the liver, but she could not stop. She knew she was going to die, but that wasn’t enough to scare her. She was found in her apartment dead one morning. It’s common knowledge that long-term alcohol abuse harms one’s overall health. The main effect is on a person’s liver. Alcohol abuse damages the liver and causes cirrhosis. The more alcohol one consumes, the more likely he or she is to experience liver complications.
What Impact Does Alcohol Have on the Liver?
The liver is one of our main organs and is responsible for ridding the body of toxins and other dangerous substances. Alcohol has a detrimental effect on the liver. When someone drinks alcohol continuously over a long period, the liver begins to prioritize metabolizing the alcohol over other toxins and substances. This puts a lot of stress on the liver and makes it hav0e to work extremely hard to rid the other toxins out of our body. When it has to constantly work this hard to function properly, it becomes damaged as a result of excessive scar tissue and fatty deposits. Fatty deposits form when the liver can’t handle the excessive alcohol intake and begins to form a fat buildup. This fat buildup in turn causes scarring and inflammation, which leads to liver disease or cirrhosis of the liver. Fatty liver is the first stage of liver damage. Many people don’t experience any symptoms at this stage unless the liver becomes enlarged. You can reverse this condition by getting help and stopping alcohol abuse. Side note here, do not ever try to stop long-term alcohol abuse on your own. It is very dangerous and needs to be done under strict medical supervision. The next stage of liver disease caused by long-term alcohol abuse is alcoholic hepatitis. This is usually the next stage of liver disease. The liver swells and one can experience symptoms such as jaundice, vomiting, and fever. The last and most serious stage of liver disease related to long-term alcohol abuse is cirrhosis of the liver. This is where scar tissue builds up in the liver and affects its ability to function properly. Cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcohol abuse has several severe symptoms and can eventually lead to fatal liver failure if the person does not get help with their alcoholism.
How a Person Can Reverse Liver Damage Related to Alcohol Abuse
Damage caused to the liver-related to long-term alcohol abuse is often reversible if the person gets help and stops drinking. However, if the liver damage is too severe, it may not be reversible. Researchers have found that drinking coffee can cut down on an alcoholic’s risk of developing cirrhosis and may even act as a buffer against the disease. Here are some other ways one can potentially reverse liver damage related to long-term alcohol abuse.
The most important thing that an alcoholic can do to potentially reverse any liver damage or prevent more extensive damage is to quit drinking. Especially if the person has abused alcohol for a long time. The sooner the person seeks help and can stop, the more likely the liver can start repairing itself. It’s important to know that simply cutting back on the alcohol intake is not enough, the only way to start healing is to stop completely.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet and trying to avoid as many processed foods as possible is also important. Avoiding processed foods makes it easier for the liver to heal and rid the body of toxins.
Exercise has many benefits. It can reduce the risk of liver problems and cancer, and it can also reduce the risk of obesity. Obesity can also contribute to fatty liver disease. Being mindful of your weight can help the liver start to heal easier.
Be Mindful of Medications
Be mindful of any medications that you take and make sure you are discussing this with your doctor. Some medications, like Tylenol, are metabolized in the liver and can especially be harmful to a person with liver disease.
Smoking can also harm your liver, especially when combined with alcohol. Smoking can increase a person’s risk of developing liver cancer. Quitting is an important step towards healing the liver.
Rehab for Alcohol Abuse
Seeking treatment as soon as possible and speaking with a doctor is the best way to determine how to start healing the liver after long-term alcohol abuse. Don’t try to stop drinking on your own or at home if you’re physically dependant on alcohol to function on a daily basis. It is very dangerous and could even be fatal. Stopping long-term alcohol abuse has to be done under strict medical supervision. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse, you can speak to someone at Evoke Massachusetts around the clock with full confidentiality. There is always somebody available and ready to help you get on the road to recovery.