What Alcohol Does to the Liver

Published on April 16th, 2016

The liver is our largest internal organ, playing over 500 different roles. One of it’s most important functions is breaking down food and then converting it into energy. The liver helps the body to get rid of waste products, as well as playing a vital role in fighting infections.

When the liver becomes damaged you typically will not know until it gets to a point where it is bad, maybe even life threatening. Regular, prolonged use of alcohol can result in irreparable damage to the liver resulting in various forms of liver disease. Alcoholic liver disease accounts for over a third of liver disease deaths each year.

The Two Main Ways Drinking Alcohol Can Damage the Liver

There are two types of liver damage. Chronic damage which develops over years, and the other is acute damage which occurs within months.

There are many different causes of liver disease, one is known as ‘alcoholic liver disease’ which is a result of drinking alcohol in excess. Damage to the liver from alcohol abuse is believed to occur for two main reasons; 1) When the liver tried to break down alcohol it results in a chemical reaction that damages cells, causing inflammation and scarring as the liver attempts to repair itself. 2) Alcohol can cause damage to the intestine, this results in toxins from gut bacteria to travel to the liver, causing inflammation and scarring.

Frequent, Prolonged Drinking Can Result in Liver Disease

It is unclear just how much alcohol and how often it is consumed will cause liver disease. There are some people who drink large amounts of alcohol frequently and never see a symptom of liver disease, and then there are others who drinking one beer at dinner for a year and find themselves in full blown liver disease.

However, reports made by the NHS does show that the following two groups as at a high risk of developing serious types of alcoholic liver disease: 1) Men who drink more than 35 units of alcohol a week for 10 years or more, and 2) Women who drink more than 28 units of alcohol a week for 10 years or more.

Seeking Help

If you have begun to experience symptoms of liver disease it is important to stop drinking immediately. For an alcoholic this can be difficult and often requires the help of professionals. Turning to an Alcohol Rehabilitation Facility will get you the treatment you need to get control of your addiction and to begin treating the damage it has caused to your liver. Do not wait to seek help, this could damage your liver further, getting it to the point of little to no funcition.

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