While mild alcoholic hepatitis may be reversed, once it reaches the stage of liver cirrhosis, it is irreversible. After diagnosis, abstaining from alcohol can improve your lifespan.
Mild alcoholic hepatitis can usually be reversed. However, if it becomes severe and reaches the stage of liver cirrhosis, it is usually irreversible. Liver cirrhosis is a condition in which the healthy liver tissue gets replaced with the scarred tissue.
Alcoholic hepatitis may result in short-term to long-term liver damage. Stopping alcohol consumption can slow down the progression of the disease and prevent further liver damage. However, it cannot reverse the damage that has already been done (especially where scarring and fibrosis have already set in).
A study conducted on 61 people with alcoholic hepatitis reported that 18 percent of those without cirrhosis progressed to cirrhosis despite alcohol abstinence. Thus, even after alcohol abstinence, you might need to regularly visit your doctor to monitor your liver condition.
How much drinking can lead to alcoholic hepatitis?
Excessive drinking is a major risk factor for alcoholic hepatitis. However, how much alcohol drinking puts you at risk of the condition is still unclear. Studies have reported that most people with alcoholic hepatitis have a history of drinking more than 3.5 ounces (or 100 grams) of alcohol daily for at least 20 years, which is equal to drinking seven glasses of wine, seven beers or seven shots of spirits.
However, this does not mean that moderate drinking cannot cause the condition. People who drink moderately have also developed it, making the connection between drinking and alcoholic hepatitis complex.
How is alcoholic hepatitis diagnosed?
If the doctor suspects that you have a liver disease such as hepatitis based on your signs and symptoms, they will ask you about your pattern of drinking alcohol. You need to be honest while answering these questions. They will also likely interview your family members to know more about your drinking habit.
To check if you have alcoholic hepatitis, the doctor will ask you to undergo the following tests:
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests
- A liver biopsy (only if other tests do not help provide a definite diagnosis)
How do you fix alcoholic hepatitis?
If you've been diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, the most important thing you can do is abstain from alcohol.
If you have developed an alcohol dependency, your doctor will suggest ways to kick the habit. Do not stop drinking at once—this can cause alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Ask your doctor how you can gradually reduce your drinking to the point of stopping completely.
Treatment of alcoholic hepatitis includes:
- Nutritional support
- Medications for depression
- Medications for anxiety
- Support groups for people addicted to alcohol
- Hospitalization for alcohol de-addiction program
A liver transplant remains the last option when your liver damage worsens and your health does not improve even after you have stopped drinking alcohol.
Hepatitis C virus causes an infection of the ______________.
What are the complications of alcoholic hepatitis?
Death rates linked to alcohol-related liver diseases, such as hepatitis, have been increasing for the last few decades. These occur most likely due to complications such as:
- Variceal bleeding (internal bleeding resulting from enlarged veins in the stomach or esophagus)
- Ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen)
- Encephalopathy (buildup of toxins in the brain)
- Kidney failure
- Liver cirrhosis (scarring in the liver)
- Liver cancer
Can you survive alcoholic hepatitis?
The answer depends on how soon you abstain from alcohol and at what stage your disease is. The sooner you stop drinking alcohol completely, the longer you will live compared to people who do not stop drinking. That said, alcoholic cirrhosis has a bad prognosis.
A study conducted on 87 people with alcoholic hepatitis reported that those who survived their first-time hospitalization had a 32 percent chance of surviving for at least five years. However, people who abstained from alcohol had a 75 percent chance of surviving for at least five years, whereas people who continued drinking had a 21 percent chance of surviving.
Enrollment in an alcoholic rehabilitation program within 30 days after hospital discharge can help people with alcoholic hepatitis reduce their risk of dying from the condition.