The liver is a large organ that lies up under the ribs on the right side of the belly (abdomen). It helps filter waste from the body. It also makes bile to help digest food, and stores sugar that the body uses for energy.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that leads to liver cell damage and cell death.
The following are the most common symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis:
Alcoholic hepatitis usually develops over time with continued drinking. But severe alcoholic hepatitis can develop suddenly. It can quickly lead to liver failure and death.
The symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis may look like other health conditions or problems. Always see a doctor for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will take a complete health history and do a physical exam. You may need tests, including:
This imaging uses sound waves to show internal structures. It does not involve radiation.
This imaging test uses X-rays and a computer to make horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the liver. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging uses a magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to make detailed pictures of internal body structures. Dye is injected to make organs visible.
For this test, a small tissue sample is taken from the liver with a needle or during surgery. These samples are checked under a microscope to find out the type of liver disease.
The goal of treatment is to restore some or all normal functioning to the liver.
You will need to stop drinking alcohol. To do thi, you may need to be in an alcohol treatment program. Sometimes you may also need to change your diet. Scarring of the liver is permanent. But the liver is often able to repair some of the damage caused by alcohol so you can live a normal life.
You may be admitted to the hospital or treated on an outpatient basis. There is no medicine to cure alcoholic hepatitis. Treatment involves easing the symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse.
Be sure to ask your healthcare provider about recommended vaccines. These include vaccines for viruses that can cause liver disease.
Many people with alcoholic hepatitis are infected with the hepatitis C virus, and many have gallstones. They are also at increased risk for liver cancer.
If you continue to drink alcohol, the liver will continue to be damaged. Over time, cirrhosis will develop.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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