The liver is an essential organ in our body, facilitating many everyday bodily functions. The liver’s primary functions include breaking down potentially toxic substances (such as drugs and alcohol) to make them less harmful to the body, storing certain nutrients and vitamins, producing bile to help with the digestion of fats, and making the proteins that are necessary for blood clotting.
Your liver isn’t immune to damage. Substances like drugs and alcohol can seriously harm your liver. And, while your liver regenerates some tissue, enough damage will lead to permanent scar tissue. This scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and weakens the liver’s ability to perform its vital functions.
One of the most dangerous consequences of alcoholism is liver damage. When this occurs, it’s known as alcohol-related liver disease. One study found that between 2011-2015, alcohol-related liver disease was one of the leading causes of alcohol-attributable deaths in the United States.
The potentially fatal consequences of alcohol-related liver disease are among the many reasons individuals should be aware of the first signs of liver damage from alcohol. Below, we cover the most common symptoms:
The liver plays a vital role in our digestive process. It filters out toxins and helps to break down glucose and fats. When your liver is damaged, it prioritizes flushing out all the toxins from all the alcohol that is being consumed. This stops it from being able to assist in regular digestive tasks. As a result, the individual may experience:
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
Another important role of the liver is to regulate hormones, glucose, and vitamin absorption in the body. If the liver needs to focus primarily on flushing out alcohol toxins instead, the body will often show signs of cognitive slow-down. This can look cause the person to feel:
- Difficulties with their memory
The liver stores vitamins the body needs. One of those crucial vitamins is B1, also known as thiamine. Alcohol disrupts the intestine’s ability to absorb thiamine. Over enough time, a damaged liver won’t be able to store thiamine and pass it onto the intestine, and a deficiency occurs. Alcoholics often have a thiamine deficiency.
Symptoms of a thiamine deficiency are:
- Lack of balance
- Numbness in the hands and feet
- Mental fog
- Digestive issues
- Rapid heart rate
- Involuntary eye movements
- Muscle weakness
If an individual is an alcoholic and is presenting signs of a thiamine deficiency, it suggests that liver damage has already occurred.
Some additional signs of liver damage from alcohol include:
- Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
- Itchy skin
- Blood in vomit or feces
- Discomfort or swelling in the area of the liver
- Sleeping issues
- Intense hangovers
- Severe reactions to regular medications
- Drinking a small amount of alcohol results in intoxication
These are serious warning signs and should not be ignored. If a person continues to drink, despite the possibility of already having some liver damage, it can progress into:
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Alcoholic fibrosis
- Alcoholic cirrhosis
Treating Liver Damage From Alcohol
If a person suspects they have liver damage, they should stop drinking alcohol and consult a doctor immediately. Having liver damage from alcohol can suggest that you have an alcohol addiction. It’s essential to seek professional help before you do more damage to your body. Alcohol may be readily accessible to us, but that doesn’t mean it’s a safe substance for all. Professional addiction treatment can help individuals find a path to recovery and live a healthy, sober life.
Hickory Treatment Centers staff only the most compassionate and knowledgeable addiction specialists that share our vision of accessible and comfortable addiction treatment from detox to aftercare. When you start your journey at our center, you’ll be able to receive medication administered by your dedicated team to help combat withdrawal symptom side effects.
Take the leap for yourself or someone you care about and see just how smooth we can make the process with a confidential consultation. We believe that everyone has the strength to recover from addiction and simply needs the right tools and support to tackle the battle head on.