The liver is one of the most important organs in the human body. While many people think its abilities to repair itself warrant them to consume excessive amounts of alcohol, liver damage is on the rise in most developed countries.
This can be caused by a variety of factors, which we will look at in this blog post. We will also teach you about the signs and symptoms to look out for, and if they indicate serious liver damage.
The liver provides many essential processes without which our body would be unable to function correctly. Everything from producing bile which assists with the digestion of food to storing glucose and glycogen.
Important tasks the liver performs include, but are not limited to, the following:
Those are a lot of tasks for one organ. To keep up with the body’s demand, the liver is the only organ in the body that can easily replace lost cells, which allows it to keep working despite accidents or prolonged exposure to unhealthy environments.
When a liver is damaged in any way, it is called liver disease. There are multiple causes and two primary forms that they take:
This occurs when the damage accumulates quickly in the liver, taking place over mere weeks or months. Exceptionally rarely, there may be instances of extreme changes to the liver that cause acute liver disease within a few days. This is generally caused by excessive use of drugs, alcohol, or some other toxic substance. Acute liver disease is rare when compared with chronic and often culminates in acute liver failure (ALF), which can be deadly.
This is the most common form of liver disease. Often by the time signs of liver damage are noticeable, it has been present for years.
There are many possible causes and associated risk factors linked with acute liver failure, but the most common triggers are listed below:
Statistically, the number one cause of chronic liver failure is related to excessive, prolonged drinking of alcohol. The other top reasons are Hepatitis B and C, along with Hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder that leads to a toxic build-up of iron in the liver. There are a vast number of other causes and risk factors for chronic liver failure that include the following:
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is caused by excessive fat around the liver. The leading causes are obesity, diabetes, and high-fat content in the blood. This can cover a wide range of diseases and disorders.
When it reaches a point where the symptoms become more severe, it is known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). At that stage, there will be liver inflammation, and scarring will begin to accumulate. NAFLD is reversible with lifestyle changes.
Alcohol can have a permanent damaging effect on the liver. It can cause both chronic and acute liver failure. The longer the liver has to filter out the toxins from alcohol, the more likely that inflammation and scarring will occur. Below are the most significant effects of alcohol on the liver:
It only takes a slightly elevated amount of alcohol to cause fatty liver, which is a buildup of fat around the organ, and it can cause significant damage.
This fat caused by drinking alcohol can be eliminated by drinking less or obtaining altogether. If left unchecked, the cost will become severe and may be irreversible if it gets to the point where the liver is scarred.
When left unchecked, this can result in liver failure and death. There is a 15% mortality rate with Alcoholic Hepatitis.  However, when it starts, there are little to no symptoms, and then when it gets more severe, you may notice the following.
Alcohol cirrhosis [AC] is scarring of the liver tissue. While the liver is the only organ that can quickly regenerate lost cells, this is not the case for areas that have been scarred over.
That damage becomes permanent and decreases the functionality of the entire liver. Once it has developed, there is no cure for it, but it is possible to survive if alcohol is entirely cut out.
If there is no abstaining, then the damage will continue to build until liver failure. The mortality rate for 25-34-year-olds with Alcoholic cirrhosis is approximately 76%. 
Several signs indicate that AC has reached a more severe stage.
Hepatocellular carcinoma, liver cancer, is more common among people who have alcoholic cirrhosis. The exact link between the two has not been isolated yet.
Still, it is believed that the scarring causes issues with the liver's natural cell regeneration process leading to possible mutations and cancer.
Most of the liver disease symptoms are similar to that of the flu with added aches and pains. The signs that will show up first will be things like sleeping and appetite irregularities, an overall feeling of sickness, and abdominal pain.
As the organ deteriorates further, the visible signs of damage become more severe and begin to include things like vomiting blood and potentially falling into a coma. By the time these symptoms are noticeable, the liver will have been significantly injured, possibly even permanently scarred.
Take a look at the tables below to understand the different symptoms associated with each type of liver damage:
Several autoimmune diseases affect the liver, and though the symptoms are mainly the same, they come at different stages of the sickness.
Both primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) tend to reveal themselves slowly. Autoimmune Hepatitis, on the other hand, tends to have a sudden onset of physical signs.
There are a number of ways you can protect your liver from the diseases and disorders that we have detailed. First, if you are someone who drinks, you should remain at or below the healthy threshold – one drink a day for women and two for men.
Anything above that has the potential to cause severe problems for your liver. If you take medications, then make sure only to use them how and when you are instructed to by a medical professional. Follow all instructions for over the counter medications. Illicit drugs of all types should be avoided.
Your lifestyle choices and eating habits will also play a part in preventing liver damage. Here are a few things to avoid.
If you find yourself tired, weak, and suffer from unexpected weight loss, then it is time to visit a medical doctor to get a check-up. Most of the symptoms can be brushed off as stress, overwork, or the flu, but by the time it reaches the point where most people are feeling lethargic and losing weight, there will be visible signs of damage to the liver.
Persistent vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain without any known cause should also cause concern. Another thing that should encourage you to see a doctor is jaundiced skin. This yellow of the skin and around the eyes is not normal and always means that something is wrong.
Abstaining from drinking alcohol is the single most significant step anyone can take towards getting better when diagnosed with alcohol-induced liver disease.
If addiction is involved, then detox services at a treatment facility will be necessary. There are medications to assist with the liver inflammation and other physical manifestations of the disease.
If caught in the early stages, there are lifestyle changes that can help reverse the damage. Exercising, eating healthy, losing weight, taking multivitamins, and not smoking are all things that have been proven to help reverse the effects after initial symptoms begin to appear.
When the disease has progressed too far for the liver to be saved, then a transplant is necessary.
Call us today on 0800 140 46 90 to discuss your rehab & detox options. Make the change today.