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Alcohol Induced Hepatitis – What Is Alcoholic Hepatitis?
Alcohol induced hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver resulting from drinking alcohol. Alcohol induced hepatitis hepatitis is not the same thing as cirrhosis, but it’s considered the earliest stage of alcohol liver disease.
Alcohol and hepatis have a closer connection than most people think. When most people think of liver damage caused by alcohol, they think first of cirrhosis of the liver. But there’s also a form of hepatitis known as alcohol induced hepatitis or alcoholic hepatitis.
The relationship between hepatitis and alcohol is not as clear as the relationship between cirrhosis and alcohol. Not everyone who drinks heavily gets alcohol induced hepatitis. Sometimes hepatitis strikes people who drink only moderately.
Your liver can recover from alcohol induced hepatitis if you stop drinking. But if you don’t, you become a serious candidate for cirrhosis and liver failure. When this happens, you also become a candidate for a liver transplant.
Doctors and researchers aren’t sure why alcohol can lead to hepatitis, but they’ve been able to make some educated guesses.
It’s known that when the liver breaks down alcohol, some toxic substances are produced. These substances irritate and inflame the liver, which destroys liver cells. Eventually, scars begin to appear on the liver. This scarring is called cirrhosis (adding the words “of the liver” is unnecessary), which is the final stage of alcoholic liver disease.
What’s unclear is this: why do some heavy and binge drinkers never develop alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis, while some moderate drinkers are afflicted?
It’s probable, therefore, that factors beside alcohol use are at play.
Genetics may play a role. Mutations in certain genes that affect metabolism may raise your risk.
If you already have another disease or disorder related to the liver, and you drink, it appears you’re more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis. This is often true in the case of hemochromatosis, a disorder which occurs when your body stores too much iron.
Malnutrition may be another factor that influences alcoholic hepatitis. Heavy drinkers often eat poorly or even substitute alcohol for food. Toxic byproducts of alcohol limit the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize food. This can result in damage to liver cells.
But sometimes even people who eat otherwise healthy diets get alcoholic hepatitis if they drink a lot.
You may not notice any symptoms in the early stages of alcoholic hepatitis. But as the disease progresses, symptoms become more obvious, including the following
Your abdomen may become painful and tender
Fluid may accumulate in the peritoneal cavity in your abdomen. This is known as ascites
Your mouth becomes dry and you become unusually thirsty
You often feel tired
You may gain weight even though you don’t have much of an appetite
You may have a fever
You may occasionally feel faint or lightheaded
Cognitive problems begin to occur, and you sometimes feel easily confused
There could be nausea and vomiting, sometimes with blood
You may notice paleness or even yellowing of your skin and eyes, which could be the onset of jaundice
Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis are likely to become worse after you’ve been drinking a lot, or binge drinking.
Symptoms vary from one person afflicted with alcoholic hepatitis to another.
If you begin to experience these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you can. Alcohol induced hepatitis can cause such serious medical conditions as gastrointestinal hemorrhage, which constitutes a medical emergency.