HEPATOLOGY-20 (1) (1)

Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) - Dubai Hepatology Clinic

Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a condition that occurs due to excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption. It is a major cause of liver-related illness and death worldwide. The progression of ALD typically follows a continuum, starting with fatty liver, which can then progress to alcoholic hepatitis and eventually lead to alcoholic cirrhosis if the alcohol abuse continues.

Different stages of Alcoholic Liver Diseases:

1. Fatty Liver (Steatosis): This is the earliest and most common stage of ALD. In this stage, excess alcohol consumption leads to the accumulation of fat in liver cells, causing liver enlargement. Fatty liver is usually reversible if alcohol consumption is stopped.

2. Alcoholic Hepatitis: Alcoholic hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver. It can cause symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Alcoholic hepatitis can be severe and life-threatening. If alcohol consumption is stopped at this stage, there is a chance of recovery, but continued alcohol abuse can lead to cirrhosis.

3. Alcoholic Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis is a late-stage liver disease characterized by the development of scar tissue in the liver, which replaces healthy liver tissue. The scar tissue disrupts the normal functioning of the liver, leading to liver failure. Symptoms of cirrhosis can include jaundice, ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen), edema (swelling), easy bruising and bleeding, fatigue, and mental confusion. Cirrhosis is irreversible, and the only cure is a liver transplant.

It's important to note that not all heavy drinkers develop alcoholic liver disease, and the severity of the disease can vary among individuals. Other factors such as genetic predisposition, nutritional status, and co-existing liver diseases can influence the development and progression of ALD.

Treatment for ALD involves stopping alcohol consumption completely, which is crucial to prevent further liver damage. Supportive care, such as proper nutrition, vitamin supplementation, and medications to manage complications, may be provided. In severe cases, liver transplantation may be necessary.

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