Alcoholic liver disease is a condition in which liver is damaged secondary to alcohol intake. The severity of the disease varies and ranges from hepatitis to progressive and end stage liver disease and cirrhosis.
Alcohol is the leading cause of fatty liver disease in young and is associated with unhealthy food habits & lifestyle. Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver becomes scarred and the damage is irreversible and the symptoms include:
- Swelling over abdomen & feet
- Bleeding, unconsciousness & altered behavior
- Generalised weakness and
- Easy fatigability resulting in significant loss of physical health, professional competence and psychological disturbances
Alcohol is the most common cause of liver disease in India accounting to 40% of all causes. Usually the habit starts in young population (in 20s and 30s) who become alcohol-dependent at a very early age. The psychological effects are evident, very early, with behavioural changes like agitation, temper tantrums etc. Prolonged alcohol intake leads to advanced liver damage and usually these patients present in their fourth and fifth decade of life. Many of these patients require repeated hospitalizations with significant loss of productivity. Even liver transplantation is needed in many patients.
The liver damage caused by alcohol is related to the amount and duration of alcohol intake. Alcohol not only affects the individual but the whole family both psychologically and financially. These patients are also prone to develop other diseases like heart disease, vitamin deficiencies, kidney disease, weakness, infertility etc.
Alcohol is more damaging to women who are affected early and by lesser amounts of alcohol as compared to men. There are many common myths about safe alcohol drinking but none of them is true, there is no safe limit, fasting or full stomach drinking doesn’t matter.
Alcohol is the most socially acceptable liver poison. Alcoholic liver disease is a very common medical and social issue in India. It equally affects rich and poor; females are more prone to adverse effects of alcohol. It causes significant loss of physical, mental and social health and affects the whole family. Avoiding alcohol and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and food habits will help in preventing fatty liver and advanced liver disease.