When you’re an alcoholic, your body and brain depend upon having alcohol in your system on a regular basis. In fact, if a person were to stop drinking there would be major withdrawal effects which could impair one’s functioning. Over time, it may feel like a person needs alcohol to survive. And the cycle of alcohol addiction may only continue, which in turn, worsens the health of the body.
In fact, one of the major organs that is affected by alcohol addiction is the liver. Although not everyone develops alcoholic liver disease and/or cirrhosis, many do. Typically, the combination of chronic alcohol addiction and a poor diet can contribute to failure of the liver. But it’s important to know that when a person has alcoholic liver disease, there is still a chance for the liver to repair itself. However, if this illness is not cared for and someone continues to drink, the liver can become permanently damaged. This is known as cirrhosis, which is a progressive and permanent type of degeneration of liver tissue. One of the signs of cirrhosis is that the liver has begun to develop scar tissue.
Yet, it’s important to know too that even at some early stages of alcoholic liver disease, there may be symptoms that the liver has become damaged beyond repair. And this can happen even without a person knowing or experiencing any significant problems with the liver.
At the same time, liver problems don’t happen out of the blue. If someone is drinking on a regular basis, then alone puts the liver at risk for problems. Excessive drinking will put the liver at risk for being damaged. The liver is an organ that filters toxins from the blood stream, including alcohol. However, with too much alcohol in the body, the liver has a hard time keeping itself healthy. The liver simply cannot keep up.
One way to determine just how healthy or unhealthy the liver is, a person can have a liver function test done. With this sort of test, a person can find out whether the liver has degenerated beyond repair. Liver function test results help diagnose and identify liver problems before an illness becomes irreparable. The test works by looking at the presence of certain enzymes in the liver. For instance, when a person is chronically drinking alcohol they may show a rise in the enzyme GGT. Also, an increase in the enzymes AST and ALT could indicate alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver. Once a person stops drinking, the enzyme GGT will return to normal levels.
If you’re an alcoholic or even a recovering alcoholic, it might be worth to have your liver tested. It may be worth to see just how much damage your liver has, if any. If cirrhosis has set it, there may be very little you can do. However, if not, then there may be steps to take to repair the liver and return to a healthy way of life. Contact your doctor for more information on the liver test, cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease, and any concerns you have about your liver.