Contributed by- Dr. Dhrity Vats
Alcohol has adverse effects on our body and mind unless we know “how much is too much”. Alcohol intake is on a rise in our country. Earlier its consumption was restricted mostly to elder men, but now women and the younger generation are not behind in the race. Some give in due to peer pressure, others in the quest to appear upbeat and few to gain confidence or lose inhibitions. Whatever the reason maybe, alcohol intake has raised its ugly head, impacting the health of those involved. The healthy age bracket is now shadowed by liver complications and other lifestyle diseases.
Drinking too much alcohol can lead to Alcoholic Fatty Liver (AFL) and in later stages hepatitis and cirrhosis. Taking alcohol within limits shall not damage the liver. But with uncontrolled alcohol intake and poor eating habits, the youth is losing more than they are gaining. These two factors usually make them more susceptible to a fatty liver.
Consumption of alcohol exposes them to the risk of many more diseases like:
- high blood pressure
- inflammation of the liver and pancreas
- brain damage and memory loss
- sexual problems
Risk factors of Alcoholic Fatty Liver (AFL)
The only major reason of Alcoholic Fatty Liver is the uncontrolled intake of alcohol, but other risk factors are:
- Hepatitis C (which can lead to inflammation in your liver)
- Too much iron in your body
Symptoms of Alcoholic Fatty Liver (AFL)
The symptoms are a mixed bag of many signs that tend to increase after an intake of alcohol. They are:
- Pain in abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of decision-making
- Dark Skin around neck and armpits
Effect of Alcohol on Liver
When alcohol is administered, it is absorbed through the bloodstream by the stomach and intestines. The blood first goes to the liver before being circulated in the whole body. So the maximum concentrated alcohol in the blood passes through the liver at first.
The liver has enzymes which metabolize alcohol. The enzyme totally breaks down alcohol into water and carbon dioxide which then passes out in the urine and from lungs. The speed of metabolizing alcohol generally does not match with the intake of alcohol.
How Much Is Too Much
Many countries have mentioned limits of alcohol intake. But in India, there is no rule regarding this. But on a healthy level, drinking a small amount of alcohol (1-2 units per day) may help to prevent health complications like heart disease and stroke.
The method of diagnosis is same as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver. The doctor shall first record a detailed history of alcohol intake. This is followed by few regular liver test.
Treatment of AFL
This is the only and most important treatment on Alcoholic Fatty Liver. The individual will not only need guidance but the support of family and doctors. Stopping alcohol for an addict is a very difficult task which is impossible without a team. The patient might be required to visit a de-addiction center.
Other treatments are same as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver.
Adverse Effects of Alcohol
Extreme alcoholism leaves a person financially and medically broken. It can damage the body in more ways than one. You are more susceptible to be affected by diseases that have a lasting impact on our body.
- Liver Diseases
- Stomach disorders
- High blood pressure
- Some types of cancers like throat and liver
- Depression and anxiety
- Sexual dysfunction
- Damage to nervous tissue
In severe cases of alcoholism, the liver can get highly damaged and can lead to Alcoholic Hepatitis and Alcoholic Cirrhosis.
If you are young, try to control your alcohol intake. Monitor your medical parameters regularly to keep a close tab on any abnormality. Drink to enjoy and not to impress!