Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by drinking too many alcoholic beverages. The liver breaks down alcohol. If you were diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, you should stop drinking alcohol. People who continue to consume alcohol face a high risk of liver damage and death.
Alcoholic hepatitis develops when the alcohol you drink damages the liver.
- The body process of destroying alcohol produces acutely toxic chemicals.
- These chemicals trigger the inflammation that destroys the liver cells.
- With the passage of time, scars replace healthy liver tissue and interfere with liver function.
- Irreversible scars (cirrhosis) are the last stage of alcoholic liver disease.
The biggest risk factor for alcoholic hepatitis is the amount of alcohol you consume.
Signs and Symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal sensitivity
- Fever, usually low.
- Fatigue and weakness
- Weight loss
When should you see a doctor?
Alcoholic hepatitis is a serious disease. Between 30% and 40% of people with acute alcoholic hepatitis can die within a month.
Consult your doctor in the following cases:
- If you have signs and symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis.
- If you feel you cannot control the drink.
- If you need help to stop drinking.
- Analysis of liver function.
- Blood test.
- An exploration of the liver by ultrasound computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR).
- A liver biopsy
Treatment and Management
Treatment for alcoholic hepatitis requires stopping drinking and treatments to relieve the signs and symptoms of liver damage.
Abandonment of alcohol
If you are addicted to alcohol and want to stop drinking, your doctor can recommend a treatment that suits your needs.
Treatment for malnutrition
Your doctor can recommend a special diet to correct nutritional problems. You will probably be referred to a nutritionist who can suggest ways to increase your intake of vitamins and nutrients that you lack, including vitamin B1 (thiamine).
Medications to reduce inflammation of the liver
If you are suffering from serious alcoholic hepatitis, your doctor may recommend the following:
- Corticosteroids: These drugs showed short-term benefits in increasing the survival of certain people with severe alcoholic hepatitis.
- Pentoxifylline: Your doctor can recommend this anti-inflammatory medication if you have severe alcoholic hepatitis and cannot use corticosteroids.