Friday, December 09, 2005

Alcohol and the Liver

Alcohol poses damage to the liver when drunk in excess. First, here is a brief overview of the large amount of work that the human liver does:1. blood detoxification;2. drug detoxification;3. glycogen storage;4. plasma protein synthesis; and5. production of bile for digestionExcessive drinking of alcohol can cause alcohol-induced liver disease.

There are three primary types of alcohol-induced liver disease:1. Fatty liver, which is characterized by the excessive accumulation of fat inside the liver cells. The liver is enlarged and upper abdominal discomfort is often felt on the right side. This is the most common alcohol-induced liver disease.2. Alcoholic hepatitis is an acute inflammation of the liver, destruction of individual liver cells and scarring. The liver is often enlarged and tender. Symptoms may include fever, jaundice, an increased white blood cell count, and spider-like veins in the skin.3. Alcoholic cirrhosis is the destruction of normal liver tissue. Non-functioning scar tissue replaces healthy tissue. Symptoms may include those of alcoholic hepatitis, in addition to portal hypertension, enlarged spleen, ascites, kidney failure, and confusion. Alcoholic cirrhosis may lead to liver cancer, which is often fatal.Since the symptoms of alcohol-induced liver disease may resemble symptoms of other medical conditions, consult your physician for a diagnosis.

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Some information for this blog was obtained from on December 8, 2005

Disclaimer: Information on this blog is posted for information purposes, not as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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