Alcoholic liver disease: Overview, Causes

Alternate Names : Liver disease due to alcohol, Cirrhosis or hepatitis – alcoholic, Laennec’s cirrhosis

Definition

Alcoholic liver disease is damage to the liver and its function due to alcohol abuse.

See also:

* Ascites
* Cirrhosis
* Alcoholism
* Bleeding varices
* Hepatic encelphalopathy

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alcoholic liver disease usually occurs after years of excessive drinking. The longer the alcohol use and the more alcohol that was consumed, the greater the likelihood of developing liver disease.

Acute alcoholic hepatitis can result from binge drinking. It may be life-threatening if severe.

People who drink excessively can become malnourished because of the empty calories from alcohol, reduced appetite, and poor absorption (malabsorption) of nutrients in the intestines. Malnutrition contributes to liver disease.

Other factors that contribute to the development of alcoholic liver disease:

* Genetic factors
* Personal susceptibility to alcohol-induced liver disease
* Toxicity of alcohol (ethanol) to the liver

Alcoholic liver disease does not affect all heavy drinkers. Women may be more susceptible than men. It is not necessary to get drunk for the disease to develop.

Pictures & Images

Digestive system

The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

Digestive system organs

Digestive system organs

The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.

Alcoholic liver disease: Overview, Causes

Alcoholic liver disease: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Alcoholic liver disease: Treatment


Review Date : 9/1/2008
Reviewed By : Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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