Consuming large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis can lead to a number of 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 10 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 suffering from cirrhosis needs to identify the symptoms so they can seek 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 start 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 easily 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 important to understand that people may suffer from cirrhosis for years without showing any symptoms. 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 a number of 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 medications 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.
Kalen Smith writes about how people can recover from substance abuse and addiction. He suggests people read the article The Priciest Rehabilitation Centers in the World.