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Alcoholic liver disease

  • Definition

    Alcoholic liver disease is damage to the liver and its function due to alcohol abuse.

    See also:

    • Ascites
    • Cirrhosis
    • Alcoholism
    • Bleeding varices
    • Hepatic encelphalopathy

    Alternative Names

    Liver disease due to alcohol; Cirrhosis or hepatitis - alcoholic; Laennec's cirrhosis

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Alcoholic liver disease usually occurs after years of drinking too much. The longer the alcohol use has occurred, and the more alcohol that was consumed, the greater the likelihood of developing liver disease.

    Alcohol may cause swelling and inflammation (hepatitis) in the liver. Over time, this can lead to scarring and then cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is the final phase of alcoholic liver disease.

    Other important factors include:

    • Alcoholic liver disease may be more common in some families
    • This disease does not occur in all heavy drinkers
    • You do not have to get drunk for the disease to develop
    • Women may be more susceptible than men

    People who drink too much, too often do not get enough healthy foods and nutrients. Poor nutrition may make liver disease worse.

    Acute alcoholic hepatitis may be caused by binge drinking (five drinks for men, four drinks for women). It may be life-threatening.