October 9, 2019
Liver disease due to excessive alcohol consumption is a chronic situation, and deaths due to this have been on a steady rise. Dr S Vivekanandan, who specialises in liver diseases, says the bottle has to be kept away.
Alcohol is injurious to health, and this a well-known truth, but many do not seem to take this warning seriously. The organ that gets most affected due to heavy drinking is the liver, the largest in the body weighing about 1.2-1.5 kg and so well protected by the lower half of the rib cage.
But with the availability of liquor outlets, access to alcohol has become easy, resulting in an increasing number of people taking to it.
Proper functioning of the liver is vital for a healthy life. The functions of the liver are so complex and several that it is said to preforming over 500 activities, points out Coimbatore-based Dr S Vivekanandan who is the managing trustee of Chennai Liver Foundation.
Common diseases affecting the liver are as a result of consuming alcohol. Generally, the symptoms of alcoholic liver disease are not too evident until the organ gets completely damaged by excessive consumption, Dr Vivekanandan told The Covai Post.
Deaths due to alcoholic liver disease has been on the rise and studies say it has hit an shocking rate of about 69 per cent in the last three decades. Alcohol consumption, coupled with smoking and high blood pressure, makes it one of the most common causes of death.
According to the doctor, the liver is a very resilient organ capable of regenerating itself. What alcoholics need to understand that each time the liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. Though the liver can develop new cells, prolonged alcohol consumption, over many years, can cause severe damage and cause diseases of the liver.
There are different stages of the disease though they often overlap.
The initial stage is alcoholic fatty liver disease where drinking excessive liquor, even if it is it only for a few days, can lead to fatty acids building up in the liver.
On the psychological front, excessive alcohol consumption causes cravings, irritability, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, delusions and sleep disorders. Alcohol also affects various other organs like the heart, pancreas and the stomach.
The most effective way to prevent alcoholic liver disease, says Dr Vivekanandan, is to stop consuming liquor.
The question that often crops up is whether alcoholic liver disease can be treated.
For this, the most important step is to stop liquor consumption totally and making lifestyle changes for the rest of one’s life, he says.
This can be supported by nutritional therapy and medication, and in the worst case, transplant of the liver.
In an early stage of alcoholic liver disease, which can either be fatty liver or hepatitis, only those who stop drinking once and for all have a good chance of recovering as they allow the liver to repair itself.
A patient is left with only a transplant option, when he is afflicted with cirrhosis of the liver. Dr Vivekanandan says, even transplant can be considered an option only if the patient stops drinking for anytime between three to six months.