Alcoholic hepatitis is a type of hepatitis caused by prolonged and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, which over time causes changes in the liver and leads to the appearance of symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite , for example.
This disease is not contagious, and in most cases, acute alcoholic hepatitis takes a cure, always when the person performs the treatment indicated by the hepatologist, with the aim of preventing the disease from evolving into cirrhosis or liver failure and bring serious complications.
One of the main indications in the treatment of alcoholic hepatitis is the abstinence from alcohol, and that reduces the inflammation of the liver, relieves the symptoms and prevents the advance of the illness. However, the doctor can also indicate the use of some medications and the implementation of a specific diet.
The symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis appear as inflammation of the liver occurs due to the chronic consumption of alcoholic beverages, being the main ones:
- Right side abdominal pain;
- Piel y ojos amarilentos, situation known as jaundice;
- Hinchazón of the body, especially the abdomen;
- Loss of appetite;
- Excessive tiredness;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Weight loss for no apparent reason;
- Enlargement of the liver and the spleen, which can be palpated and observed through the increase in abdominal volume.
In general, people who present signs and symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis and who, in the beginning of the adequate treatment, have a survival rate of 6 months after the appearance of the first symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to consult a hepatologist as quickly as possible, whenever symptoms of liver problems arise.
How is the diagnosis
The diagnosis of alcoholic hepatitis is carried out by the hepatologist, general practitioner or internist. For that, they indicate the performance of some laboratory tests, such as a liver profile to know how the liver function is found through the measurement of the concentration of its enzymes, and a complete blood count.
In addition to this, the doctor may also recommend carrying out imaging tests, such as an abdominal ultrasound, to check for changes in the liver and in the abdomen. Likewise, the doctor must take into account at the time of diagnosis, the clinical history of the patient, being important to know if the person consumed alcoholic beverages, with what frequency and in what quantity.
Find out more details about the keys that are used to evaluate the function of the liver.
How is the treatment performed?
The treatment for alcoholic hepatitis must be determined by a hepatologist or general practitioner, which varies according to its severity, and whose objective is to prevent the progression of the illness, alleviate the symptoms and reduce the inflammation of the liver. The treatment options for alcoholic hepatitis are:
1. Abstinence from alcohol
Stopping the consumption of alcoholic beverages is the main step to treat the illness. In many cases, there is a significant improvement in inflammation and accumulation of grease in the liver, which on some occasions may be sufficient to cure hepatitis.
However, in other situations, the inflammation can only improve, with the persistence of the hepatic disease, and the association of other treatments by the doctor is necessary. Even in these cases, giving up alcohol is essential for the progress of the illness to be slower and to increase life expectancy.
2. Food care
It is common that there is malnutrition in people with alcoholic hepatitis, due to which there are deficiencies in calories, proteins and vitamins.
For this reason, the guidance of a nutritionist is very important, so that they carry out an evaluation and indicate a personalized meal plan, adapted to the needs of the person. In general, the intake of nutritional and vitamin supplements can also be recommended to help replace the deficit of these nutrients.
See how the diet should be for hepatitis.
3. Use of medication
Some specific drugs may be indicated by the doctor for the treatment of alcoholic hepatitis, these are: corticosteroids, which have an anti-inflammatory action, protecting the cells of the liver against the toxic action of alcohol; drugs with immune action, such as anti-TNF; for circulation, such as pentoxifylline; and other hepatoprotective drugs such as ursodeoxycholic acid, S-Adenosyl-L-methionine and phosphatidylcholine.
However, there are also other therapies that are used to treat specific cases of alcoholic hepatitis, and that must be indicated by the gastroenterologist or hepatologist.
4. Liver transplantation
Liver transplantation is a surgical procedure indicated for people who present severe damage to the liver and whose clinical treatment is not working, because the function of this organ is compromised, as occurs in cases of liver cirrhosis, liver failure , liver cancer and hepatitis, for example.
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