Consuming large quantities of alcohol regularly can lead to several long-term health complications. The symptoms of long-term alcohol abuse can be unpleasant, but cirrhosis of the liver is probably the most dangerous threat any alcoholic could face.
Cirrhosis occurs when alcohol has scarred the liver tissue and impaired its functionality. According to a study conducted more than ten years ago, as much as one in five heavy long-term drinkers can experience cirrhosis. The study also found that cirrhosis was the 4th leading cause of death among middle-aged people.
What Are the Signs of Cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is an irreversible condition, but alcoholics can delay the progression of the disease by seeking early treatment. Anyone who has cirrhosis needs to identify the symptoms so they can find medical attention.
Here are some of the signs you need to be aware of:
- Exhaustion. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of cirrhosis. Many people with cirrhosis don’t have enough energy to work full-time.
- Skin problems. Skin can start turning a bronzy or yellowish color. This occurs because the liver is too weak to remove bilirubin and other waste from the blood. These toxins eventually begin to change the pigment of the skin (jaundice). People with cirrhosis may also have rashes or experience persistent itching.
- Bruising. The liver is responsible for ensuring that blood clots properly. The clotting function is impaired when the liver has been damaged extensively. As a result, people with cirrhosis can bruise much more quickly than people with a healthy liver.
- Loss of appetite. Another common sign of cirrhosis is a decreased appetite. Many people undergoing liver disease also lose weight.
These are common symptoms associated with a cirrhotic liver. However, it is essential to understand that people may have cirrhosis for years without showing any signs. Whether or not you show any symptoms, only your physician can tell you whether or not you have liver disease.
How Do You Treat Liver Disease?
Health care professionals will advise several steps to help you reduce the impact of liver disease. Health professionals will tell their patients that they need to stop drinking alcohol. Patients suffering from alcoholism may need to seek counseling or go into rehab.
Doctors may also need to take steps to help patients deal with the excess fluid that has built up in their bodies. They may need to perform surgery to start draining some of it.
Doctors may also need to prescribe medications to help patients with liver disease. Patients with cirrhosis may also have high blood pressure. Doctors often prescribe blood pressure medications to their patients to prevent stomach ulcers and other dangers. Patients may also need medicines to flush out some of the toxins in their body, so they don’t go into a coma.
There is no known cure for cirrhosis of the liver. However, patients can at least take some measures to increase their life expectancy and live more comfortably.