Alcohol and Hepatitis


The liver condition hepatitis can be brought on by too much alcohol. Hepatitis is not the same as liver cirrhosis but can bring it on.

Signs that you or someone you know may have hepatitis include yellowy eyes and skin and excess pancreatic fluid. Fatigue and mental confusion are also common. In some cases hepatitis is mild but it can be potentially fatal.

Hepatitis doesn’t always have symptoms and in very mild cases may only come to light through a blood test. Unchecked, hepatitis can lead to liver cirrhosis. When hepatitis becomes advanced it can lead to significant yellowing of the skin and eyes, blood-clotting difficulties and internal bleeding. In the worst cases it can result in a coma and death.

Cirrhosis of the liver can result from hepatitis. It’s when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, which prevents the liver from performing its essential functions of cleaning the body and blood of toxins. Cirrhosis can occur without someone having had hepatitis.

Although the damage caused by hepatitis can not usually be reversed, its progress can be stopped by quitting alcohol. With continued drinking, hepatitis is likely to get worse and could result in hospitalisation.

The risk of developing alcohol-related hepatitis is minimised when drinking is kept within Government-recommended unit limits – these are 14 a week for women and 21 a week for men. The units should be spread throughout the week, rather than being drunk all at once.

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