Early Signs Of Liver Damage From Alcohol

Can My Body Keep Up With Too Much Drinking?

How Alcohol Harms Your Liver

Shadow Mountain Alcoholism and Your liver

For the past 11 years, I’ve been drinking every night. Sometimes it’s less, but most of the time I go until I can’t anymore.

When I say I can’t anymore, I mean either I’m at the bottom of the bottle or I’m passed out.

When I wake up, I’m sore, usually from the way I slept — facedown.

Lately, though, the soreness has become something more. It’s become a lingering pain in my gut that doesn’t go away throughout the day. The only time it goes away is when I’m passed out drunk again.

Maybe this is my body telling me it’s had enough.

Has it had enough?

I’m not ready to die. I want to be there for my kids and to see my grandkids someday, but I’m pulled so strongly to just keep drinking.

I think it’s time to get this figured out.

Alcohol Takes Its Toll In Our Health

It’s not breaking news that alcohol use in large amounts and over a prolonged period of time is bad for us.

Alcohol consumption has been around for centuries, and that’s long enough for us to see the trends of what it does to our bodies over time.

We know that after processing so much alcohol, our livers can no longer keep up, and our body begins its journey into ceasing to function.

How do we know when our body is taking on too much? How do we know when our body has had enough?

Those are hard questions to ask, and the answers may be incredibly hard to accept if you are the one living it.

Hopefully, the rest of this post will provide some clarity.

How Much Drinking Is Too Much?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines excessive alcohol consumption as that which includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, or any alcohol use by pregnant women or anyone younger than 21.

Furthermore, the CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks on one occasion if you’re a woman or five or more drinks on one occasion if you’re a man. Heavy drinking, as defined by the CDC, is when a woman consumes eight or more drinks in a week or a man consumes 15 or more drinks in a week.

These numbers are, of course, not to be taken literally. It’s entirely possible for someone who consumes less alcohol than listed above to feel the effects of alcohol use, and vice versa.

What Are The Early Signs Of Liver Damage From Alcohol

Shadow-Mountain Alcoholism treatment

The first signs of liver damage from alcohol can be vague or can be serious. Typically there are three diseases that occur from excessive alcohol use: they are fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.

While fatty liver typically doesn’t come with symptoms, there are still signs that other diseases could be in your future without a change of the amount you’re drinking.

The most common early signs of liver damage are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Soreness and/or tenderness around the liver area

Liver Diseases Caused By Alcohol

Each of the three major diseases known to be caused by excessive alcohol use is unique, but at the same time comes with similar symptoms.

Please take the following information as simply educational and do not try to self-diagnose.

Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver disease, while not good, is the least serious of these three diseases in general terms.

Most often, a person never knows they have fatty liver disease. The symptoms are mild to non-existent in most situations.

If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Abdominal pain
    • Typically on the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes (jaundice)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Weakness

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Alcoholic hepatitis can look just like other health conditions, especially fellow liver diseases fatty liver and cirrhosis.

Common symptoms of the disease include:

  • Abdominal pain
    • Typically on the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting blood or a dark matter
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes (jaundice)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a very serious condition that unfortunately can show no signs until liver damage is so extensive that it cannot be undone.

Symptoms of cirrhosis are more widespread than those of the previous diseases mentioned but still include some of the same symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling of extremities (feet, legs, ankles, hands, fingers)
    • Also called edema
  • Nausea
  • Easy bleeding and/or bruising
  • Itchiness
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes (jaundice)
  • Redness on palms
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen
    • Ascites

What Purpose Does The Liver Have?

What exactly does the liver do? We know what the brain and the heart do. We know what purpose our skin has and our stomach.

Why do we, the general public, not know as much about the liver as we do about our heart or brain?

That’s hard to say because the liver is essential for many life-supporting functions.

The liver does the following and more:

  • Stores iron
  • Makes protein for the body
  • Produces bile for digestion
  • Turns nutrients into energy
  • Creates the substances that help your wounds heal
  • Helps your body by removing toxins and bacteria that can cause infection or other harm

Other Organs Affected By Alcohol

Your liver will not be the only organ damaged while you’re battling an addiction to alcohol.

Alcohol misuse has also been tied to heart disease, stroke, mental health risks, and sexual reproduction issues.

The CDC explains that alcohol misuse can be tied to 1 in 10 deaths of Americans ages 20-64. This includes deaths from all of the risk factors mentioned throughout this post.

Can the Liver Repair Itself?

The human body is extraordinary. All of our bodies are capable of miraculous things daily.

What is even more amazing is how while our bodies do the same things, they do them at different speeds.

This is true for liver functions.

In a general sense, our liver can repair itself in time when given a chance to recover. However, there is a point of no return for the liver.

For this reason, it is impossible to say exactly how much alcohol over a specific amount of time the liver can handle. It’s different for each person.

What we can say is that every time your liver is used to filter alcohol, liver cells die. When they die and have a period of time to recover, new cells are formed. However, with extended alcohol misuse (drinking too much, too often), the liver loses the ability to regenerate new cells.

That means the liver can do an incredible thing and repair itself, but it isn’t indestructible.

Also, there are ways to help your liver regenerate.

First, it never hurts to consult a medical professional about your specific story and situation. They will be able to better help your exact situation. In some cases there may be medications that can assist you during the process of improving your liver function.

It also is beneficial to work on your general health away from alcohol. An active lifestyle that is met with healthy dieting is a great way to not only help your liver but all other organs as well. It also has been proven to improve your mental and emotional well-being.

Is My Liver Already Too Damaged?

No. You are never too far gone.

Even when given the diagnosis of cirrhosis, fatty liver, or hepatitis, with the right professional help, you can reverse some of the damage done and prolong your life with critical lifestyle changes.

It’s important to take a chance on yourself today and begin the process of recovery.

Thankfully for those in New Mexico, there is a safe and reliable option with Shadow Mountain Recovery.

A Recap

Liver damage done by alcohol is dangerous and can lead to fatal diseases if not addressed. These are important steps to take to ensure your liver is given time to repair itself and remain functioning to its full potential if you have a history of excessive alcohol use.

  • Consult a medical professional immediately
    • They can help guide you with an exact background of your situation
  • Make lifestyle changes
    • A healthy mix of diet and exercise will give your liver an environment welcoming of repair
  • If you cannot seem to quit your alcohol use, consider treatment
    • It takes a ton of courage to step to the plate and admit you need help. By taking this chance on yourself, you are giving yourself the opportunity to live and be around your loved ones for many more years to come.

Call Shadow Mountain Today

If you’re reading this today and you or someone you know is in need of treatment for alcohol addiction, don’t wait any longer to get help.

It’s no small undertaking to make the call, and it can be scary. We know you’re making a massive leap of faith by calling us, but rest assured we are prepared to help you in whatever way you need.

We have the means to help.

Call today at 800-203-8249 to learn more about our options for you.

FAQs:

What are the first signs of liver damage from alcohol?

The first signs of liver damage from alcohol can be vague or can be serious. Typically there are three diseases that occur from excessive alcohol use. They are fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.

While fatty liver typically does not come with symptoms, there are still signs that other diseases could be in your future without a change of the amount you’re drinking.

The most common early signs of liver damage are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Soreness and/or tenderness around the liver area

How long do you have to drink before liver damage occurs?

This is hard to give a definitive answer to. Typically, it’s believed that if someone consumes more than 1.5 ounces of alcohol daily for an extended period of time, they will do damage to their liver.

That period of time fluctuates from person to person and a number of alcohol factors in as well.

1.5 ounces of alcohol roughly equates to drinking about three cans of beer, 3 glasses of wine, or 3 shots of hard liquor.

Can the liver repair itself after years of drinking?

We have to look at this carefully, and you must understand all of what we say here.

Yes, the liver can repair itself to a certain extent. There is a point of no reversing the damage done to your liver.

The liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself in very general terms.

Every time your liver is used to filter alcohol, liver cells die. When they die and have a period of time to recover, new cells are formed. However, with extended alcohol misuse (drinking too much), the liver loses the ability to regenerate new cells.

So in short, yes. The liver does incredible things like repairing itself, but it isn’t indestructible.