As the name suggests, alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is triggered by consuming large amounts of the popular but unhealthy beverage, alcohol. Over time, this condition can set the stage for serious problems, such as usually irreversible liver damage and scarring of the organ. Fortunately, a doctor shared a warning sign that could indicate ARLD has started.
While indulging in an occasional G&T won’t lead to alcohol-related liver disease, heavy drinking won’t do your liver the same kindness.
According to Dr. Deborah Lee of Dr. Fox’s Online Pharmacy“early” stages of this condition may not show any symptoms, but an “early” sign could be acholic stools.
Acholic stools are characterized by a clay-colored appearance due to a lack of bile pigment, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Dr. Lee said: “Your poop is brown because it contains the bile pigment, bilirubin. The liver produces bile that contains large amounts of bilirubin.
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“In a healthy person, bile exits the bile duct into the first part of the intestines, the duodenum, and mixes with the intestinal contents.
“But in alcoholic liver disease, excessive alcohol consumption has caused the liver cells to become inflamed; this is called alcoholic hepatitis.”
This disruption of liver function prevents bile from flowing freely through your liver.
Once this happens, the bilirubin travels from the liver into the bloodstream, causing the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow, a condition known as jaundice.
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However, your skin isn’t the only one experiencing a color change, as your poop takes a hit too.
Dr. Lee said: “Because the bile does not reach the intestines, the stool becomes pale, putty-colored, or may resemble clay.”
Although acholic stools may be the first indicator of liver damage, stool color is not the only sign of liver disease.
According to the doctor, other early signs include:
- Pain or tenderness in the upper right part of your abdomen (over your liver)
- loss of appetite
- Skin itch
- You may bruise easily.
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the National Health Service add signs like weight loss, swollen ankles and belly, confusion, drowsiness, vomiting blood, and bloody stools to this grim list.
If you start to experience symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease, you should see your GP.
However, Dr. Lee also recommended that you tell your doctor if you drink heavily on a regular basis, as the damage could continue while symptoms may be reluctant to appear.
While it’s not clear what exact level of alcohol triggers the condition, experts have a good guess.
The doctor said: “Specialists believe that most people diagnosed with the condition have been drinking at least 3.5 ounces (100g) of alcohol every day for around 20 years, which is equivalent to seven glasses of wine, seven beers or seven measures of spirits a day. ”
The good news is that stopping drinking in the early stages of alcohol-related liver disease may still help.
Dr. Lee: “In the early stages, alcoholic hepatitis can be reversed by stopping drinking alcohol. This can take six to 12 months.
“Even if the disease is advanced, stopping drinking alcohol will help improve liver function.”
While saying goodbye to alcohol is considered the most reliable prevention, sticking to the recommended limits of not regularly drinking more than 14 units per week could also help, according to the NHS.