Drinking too much alcohol increases people's risk of injuries, violence, liver disease, and some types of cancer. This April during Alcohol Awareness Month, NMAC encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much.
Facts about Alcohol and Drunk driving from CADA Bermuda:
Fact: Those who begin drinking before the age of 15 are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence (alcoholism) than those who wait until the age of 21.
Fact: 1 out of every 7 people who drink become addicted (alcoholism)
Fact: Even one or two drinks impair a drivers judgement and reaction time. If you've been drinking you are unable to judge how well you can drive, alcohol has very predictable effects, one of which is impairing your judgement.
Fact: The vast majority of the people who die on Bermuda's roads are found to be over the legal limit of alcohol or under the influence of drugs.
Drinking too much alcohol can lead to three types of liver conditions - Fatty Liver, Hepatitis and Cirrhosis (liver 'scarring'). Any, or all, of these conditions can occur at the same time.
Fatty Liver
A build-up of fat occurs within liver cells in most people who regularly drink heavily. Fatty Liver is not usually serious and does not cause symptoms.
Fatty Liver will usually reverse if you stop drinking heavily. However, in some people the Fatty Liver progresses and develops into Hepatitis.
Alcoholic Hepatitis
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The inflammation can range from mild to severe.
Mild hepatitis may not cause any symptoms, the only indication of inflammation may be an abnormal level of liver chemicals (enzymes) in the blood, which can be detected by a blood test. However, in some cases the hepatitis becomes persistent, which can gradually damage the liver and eventually cause cirrhosis.
A more severe Hepatitis tends to cause symptoms such as:
Feeling sick (nausea).
Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), caused by a high level of bilirubin – a chemical normally metabolized in the liver.
Sometimes, pain over the liver.
A very severe bout of alcoholic hepatitis can quickly lead to liver failure. This can cause deep jaundice,
Generally feeling unwell.
Blood clotting problems, confusion, coma and bleeding into the guts. It is often fatal.
The main treatment for alcoholic hepatitis is to provide adequate nutrition (this sometimes involves passing liquid feeds through a tube in the stomach)
Alcoholic Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is a condition where normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. The scar tissue affects the normal structure and regrowth of liver cells causing them to become damaged and die as scar tissue gradually develops. This results in the liver losing its ability to function properly.
About 1 in 10 heavy drinkers will eventually develop cirrhosis. It tends to occur after 10 or more years of heavy drinking. Note: cirrhosis can develop in people who have never had alcoholic hepatitis.
How is Alcoholic Liver Disease diagnosed?
A doctor may suspect that you have liver problems from your symptoms and from a physical examination. They may especially think of liver problems as a cause of your symptoms if you have a history of heavy alcohol drinking.
Some tests may be done:
Blood tests may show abnormal liver function.
An ultrasound scan may show that you have a damaged liver
To confirm the diagnosis, a small sample (biopsy) of the liver may be taken to be looked at under the microscope. The 'scarring' of the liver caused by liver Cirrhosis, or the typical features of liver cells with alcoholic hepatitis can be seen on a biopsy sample.
What is The Treatment for Alcoholic Liver Disease?
For all types of liver disease caused by alcohol, you should stop drinking alcohol completely. You may be referred to a dietician to review your diet.
This is because many people who drink heavily do not eat properly and need advice on getting back into eating a healthy diet. Vitamin supplements may be prescribed for a while.
If you have fatty liver, or alcoholic hepatitis which is not
severe, you should fully recover from these conditions if you stop drinking alcohol.
If you have severe hepatitis and require hospital admission, you may require intensive
Care treatment. Some people with severe hepatitis will die.
If you have 'scarring' of the liver (cirrhosis), cutting out alcohol can improve your outlook. If cirrhosis is diagnosed when it is not too advanced and you stop drinking alcohol, the cirrhosis is unlikely to progress. However, the cirrhosis and symptoms will usually get worse if you continue to drink alcohol. In severe cases where the scarring is extensive and the liver can barely function, a liver transplant may be the only option.
Supplement Spotlight!
Rhizinate® 3X is triple strength Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) in a great-tasting German chocolate-flavored chewable tablet for fast, soothing, digestive relief. DGL has been shown to support the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines.
The stomach maintains an acidic pH that helps to initiate digestion and promote microbial defense, yet its epithelial tissues must simultaneously be shielded against harsh acidic conditions. The stomach’s protective mucin barrier must be intact in order to protect stomach health and comfort.
Patients who experience an occasional discomfort after consuming coffee, spicy or fried foods may benefit from supplementing with a plant-based agent such as Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL), which has been shown to support the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines.
Rhizinate® 3X is triple strength DGL in a great-tasting German chocolate-flavored chewable tablet, which allows it to mix with saliva for direct action on the gastric mucosa. Rhizinate 3X works by stimulating protective factors in the digestive tract that help relieve occasional stomach discomfort. In Rhizinate 3X, the Glycyrrhizin compound—which may have a blood pressure-raising effect in some people—has been removed.