August 23, 2017

Alcohol Cirrhosis

Alcohol CirrhosisIt is widely recognized that alcohol abuse can cause cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is a medical condition that causes the liver to no longer function properly. Excessive alcohol is the main cause of deterioration and scarring of the liver.

Surprisingly though, researchers report that cirrhosis and liver damage affects men and woman differently. For example, in women, it can only take two or three alcoholic drinks per day to cause damage to the liver. For men the daily alcohol consumption is larger to cause liver damage. It takes between three or four alcoholic drinks daily. An important note about the type of alcohol that causes the most damage includes beer and wine.

Once liver damage occurs, the consequences affect its ability to work normally. In the beginning of liver damage, some of the consequences include the liver not being able to:

  1. Remove bacteria and toxins from blood
  2. Produce fat and cholesterol absorbing bile
  3. Control Infections
  4. Process nutrients and hormones
  5. Regulate blood clotting by making certain proteins
  6. Regenerate damage cells

However, in the end when serious cirrhosis damage occurs, death is result of an unhealthy liver. In United States, cirrhosis holds the title of being the twelfth leading cause of death by disease. In young and middle-aged adults, cirrhosis is the seventh highest cause of death. Alcohol cirrhosis causes anywhere from 10,000 to 24,000 cirrhosis deaths annually.

Symptoms of Alcohol Cirrhosis

Initially, the symptoms of alcohol cirrhosis depend on the severity of liver damage. Unfortunately, the symptoms are nonspecific which means they do not point to the liver as the problem. At the beginning stage of alcohol cirrhosis, the following symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Weakness
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Itching
  5. Easy bruising
  6. Yellowing of the skin

If liver damage progresses past the initial stage, complex symptoms include:

  1. Edema and ascites
  2. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP)
  3. Bleeding from esophageal varices
  4. Hepatic encephalopathy
  5. Hepatorenal syndrome
  6. Hypersplenism
  7. Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)

Diagnosing Alcohol Cirrhosis

Alcohol cirrhosis diagnosing uses a combination of methods. First, the physician will collect the patient’s medical history. Secondly, the physician will access any behaviors, which may cause alcohol cirrhosis.

The diagnosing physician may also order blood tests and imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI, liver scan or ultrasound. This can help rule out other diseases as well as confirm alcohol cirrhosis. In order to view the liver, a laparoscopic is used. A liver biopsy is a possibility but depends on the extent of liver damage.

Staging Alcohol Cirrhosis

Diagnosing alcohol cirrhosis involves various stages depending on damage. Specifically defined by a rating system helps determine the estimated time of survival. The rating system used is the MELD score, which stands for Model for End stage Liver Disease. The system scores the status of cirrhosis patients using three separate blood tests that help reveal how a patient is doing.

One of the tests examines kidney function. This test is the creatinine test. A second test performed for the MELD score is the INR or international normalized ratio. This test examines the blood clotting function of the body. The third test is the bilirubin test. This test checks the amount of bile pigment found in the blood. The scores typically range from six to 40. A low score such as a six indicates a higher chance for 90-day survival than a higher score such as a 40.

Treatment for Alcohol Cirrhosis

Alcohol cirrhosis treatment depends on two variables: the extent of damage and if other diseases are present. For example, it is common for cirrhosis patients to be malnourished. Dietary changes remedy malnourishment as well as watching for swelling or fluid retention. Since liver cirrhosis stops the body to fight infection, prohibiting certain foods such as raw shellfish is important because of bacteria risk. Someone with alcohol cirrhosis may need liquid nutritional supplements if the malnutrition is serious or dietary changes are not enough.

Obviously, people with alcohol cirrhosis must avoid alcohol in order to decrease further liver damage. In addition, due to side effects as well, as how it affects the liver, one must avoid:

  1. Certain supplements
  2. Vitamins
  3. Over-the-counter medicine
  4. Prescription medications

If an individual suffering from alcohol cirrhosis, the best preventive method in avoiding further damage is consulting your physician first.

Liver transplant for patients with alcohol cirrhosis has been somewhat controversial. This procedure is a major operation with low chances of survival post-transplant fuels the controversy. Ultimately, it comes down to there are more people needing livers versus the actual livers available. In order to deal with this unfortunate problem, strict criteria are set up for potential transplant patients. This includes an extensive process to approve an individual for the liver transplant list. If approved for the liver transplant list, chances of dropping in placement or removed completely is high.