How Long Do I Abstain From Alcohol To Repair My Liver?

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Chronic alcohol abuse can have severe effects on liver function and liver health. Treatment for alcohol-related liver damage involves alcohol abstinence, and may require other medical and behavioral health treatments.

How To Repair Liver After Drinking

Alcoholic liver disease is a serious health condition caused by chronic, heavy drinking. It is prevalent, but preventable.

If alcoholic liver disease is identified and treated in its early stages, its effects may also be reversible in time, with medical treatment and alcohol abstinence.

How Long Does It Take For Your Liver To Heal?

The amount of time it takes for your liver to heal from excessive alcohol intake can depend on various personal, environmental, biological, and genetic factors.

Factors that can affect this include:

  • the amount you drink
  • frequency of heavy drinking
  • history of liver damage/disease
  • long-term alcohol abuse (e.g. chronically abusing alcohol for years)

For some, the reversal of liver damage in its early stages may occur within a matter of months, provided a treatment plan is followed. For others, this may take years.

How Does Alcohol Affect The Liver?

Alcohol is a substance that is broken down, or metabolized, by enzymes in the liver.

Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can disrupt the liver’s ability to effectively metabolize the alcohol you’re consuming, and can lead to liver damage.

What Is Alcoholic Liver Disease?

Alcoholic liver disease is a chronic medical condition that occurs in three stages:

Stage 1: Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (Steatosis)

This is a buildup of fat within the liver cells, also known as liver parenchyma.

Stage 2: Alcoholic Hepatitis

This is an acute inflammation of the liver. This stage is characterized by a death of liver cells and the beginning of permanent scarring.

Stage 3: Alcoholic Cirrhosis

This final, end-stage of alcoholic liver disease is characterized by severe damage to, or the destruction of, normal liver tissue.

What Are The Complications Of Alcoholic Liver Disease?

A fatty liver and alcoholic hepatitis may be reversible with alcohol abstinence and other medical treatment, as recommended by a healthcare provider.

Cirrhosis, on the other hand, is irreversible. This is characterized by severe damage to liver function or the death of cells in the liver — which can lead to liver failure.

Complications of alcoholic liver disease can include:

  • scar tissue within the liver
  • increased pressure in the blood vessels of the liver
  • swelling in the legs and stomach
  • kidney failure
  • liver cancer
  • liver failure
  • bleeding disorders
  • loss of brain function (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • death

Treatment for cirrhosis focuses on mitigation, not a reversal of effects, and may require a liver transplant.

Signs And Symptoms Of Alcohol-Related Liver Damage

Getting help for alcohol-related liver damage begins with first identifying signs and symptoms of a problem.

Signs of early-stage liver disease include:

  • bloating of the stomach
  • abdominal pain
  • weakness
  • nausea
  • loss of energy
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • red, spider-like blood vessels on the skin

Signs of late-stage liver disease (cirrhosis):

  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • edema
  • ascites
  • mental confusion
  • easily bruising
  • abnormal bleeding
  • pale or clay-colored stools
  • kidney failure

Symptoms of this condition can vary depending on the amount you drink, and other factors related to your health, drug use, or drinking habits.

Risk Factors For Alcoholic Liver Disease

Some people can be at greater risk for alcoholic liver disease than others.

Risk factors for alcohol-related liver damage include:

  • older age (over 50)
  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • frequent binge-drinking
  • long-term alcohol abuse
  • having viral hepatitis
  • genetic predisposition

Men are more commonly diagnosed with this condition than women.

However, research shows women are at greater risk for alcohol-related liver damage after drinking less, compared to men.

Treatment For Alcoholic Liver Disease

The most common recommendation for treating alcoholic liver disease is to abstain from alcohol. For those who abuse alcohol, this may require alcohol detox.

Other treatments may include:

  • vitamins and supplements
  • diuretics (for fluid buildup)
  • lifestyle changes
  • alcohol rehab

Your treatment plan will depend largely on the severity of your condition, your symptoms, and whether you have a history of current or past alcohol use disorder.

Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol-related liver disease is a progressive condition that will get worse over time if left untreated.

To find an alcohol detox program for yourself or a loved one with an alcohol addiction, call our helpline for more information today.

For 24/7 Treatment Help Call:
(888) 859-4403

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