Liver, which is located below the right lung and under the ribcage, is the second largest organ and one of the most functional internal organs in human body. It plays a significant role in:
- Processing food
- Breaking down nutrients and chemicals in the blood
- Filtering waste
- Producing proteins for blood plasma
- Regulating blood clotting
Why alcohol can cause bad effects on your liver?
It is obvious that alcohol is one of the main causes for harmful medical conditions in the body, but not everyone clearly figures out the reasons. Have you ever asked yourself what does alcohol do to your liver while sipping a glass of your favorite alcohol drink? These following information willing give you a quick response:
Liver is an important organ which plays different main roles and can cope with alcohol but only with a certain amount of alcohol at a suitable time. Therefore, over-drinking can place your liver at risks dangerous medical problems.
What does alcohol do to your liver?
It is undeniable that alcohol is not the key reason for liver diseases. For some people, consuming alcohol gradually can cause various negative impacts on the liver.
Here is the process that alcohol is absorbed in the body: Mouth → Stomach → Small intestine → Bloodstream → Liver → Brain
1. Mouth: Alcohol is consumed directly
2. Stomach: Alcohol goes right into the stomach. A little of alcohol passes through the stomach wall and enters bloodstream, the rest continues down into small intestine
3. Small intestine: After going through the stomach, alcohol reaches small intestine, most of which is absorbed through the wall of intestine and into the bloodstream
4. Bloodstream: Alcohol is transferred to all the parts of inner body
5. Liver: Reaching your liver, alcohol leases acetaldehyle - a toxic enzyme which can lead to liver cells damage and long-term scarring, and show impacts on brain and stomach system.
Water is necessary for your liver to perform its functions in efficient way. When alcohol comes into the body, it performs like a diuretic which causes water-loss and forces your liver to seek water from other parts in your body. The overwhelming dehydration is one of the explanation for the fact that you tend to wake up with a dry mouth and whopping headache after a long night with alcohol consumption.
Alcohol is filtered through the liver with a limit to how much your liver can process, of course. So excessive drinking make it difficult for your liver to perform its basic tasks.
6. Brain: Alcohol goes to the brain almost as soon as it is consumed and continues passing through the brain until the liver oxidizes all alcohol to the carbon dioxide, water and energy.
There are tons of bad consequences related to liver resulting from alcoholic drinks, but that’s not all.
Let’s take a look at the following section:
What life-threatening consequences that excessive drinking can result on your liver?
Different types of liver disease, even liver cancer can form from excessive amount of alcohol consumption.
Here are 4 most common stages to what does alcohol do to your liver:
#1. Alcoholic fatty liver disease
Alcohol-related liver diseases (ARLD) are very common around the world with 3 main stages. And fatty liver disease with over 5% of total fat in the liver is the first stage in the formation of ARLD.
Consuming a significant number of alcohol more than your liver can handle will make a great chance for fat building-up in the liver although the patient just drink in a few days.
The number of excess fat stored in liver cells accumulates and causes fatty liver disease, decreasing the necessary functions of your liver.
Particularly, to overweight people with excessive alcohol consumption, the chance and speed of liver damage will increase significantly.
Fatty liver disease can go undetected for a long time because there is no significant symptoms. However, if you have some following abnormal signs, you must pay more attention to your liver:
- A poor appetite
- Loss of weight with no clear reasons
- Abdominal pain
- Physical weakness
It can be easy to turn fatty liver disease into a normal condition of a good liver in case you stop consuming alcohol for 15 days.
#2. Alcoholic hepatitis
Next stage in ARLD formation is alcoholic hepatitis. This medical condition forms from the inflammation in the liver which is caused by long term alcohol consumption, making the liver swollen and tender.
By development of alcoholic hepatitis, the patient will receive the first anxiety that their liver is being damaged by alcohol.
If you drink constantly although your liver has a considerable amount of fat, your liver will become hepatitis sooner, and this medical condition is a result of long-term alcohol consumption.
If you keep drinking excessively, alcoholic hepatitis will have a chance to develop into the next serious stage - cirrhosis.
Like fatty liver disease, alcohol hepatitis does not show clear symptoms, beside the mentioned abnormal signs in previous stage, alcohol hepatitis may show more following abnormal signs:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever, often low grade
- Frequent confusion
- Changes in behavior
- Kidney and liver failure
- Fluid accumulation in your abdomen (ascites)
If alcohol consumption is kept to a certain limit, alcoholic hepatitis can decrease slowly over months.
Last stage in ARLD development is cirrhosis of your liver. This medical condition forms from the inflammation of fat in the liver, chronic viral hepatitis, uncontrollable alcohol consumption, some kinds of drug and damaging substances.
Cirrhosis occurs when the liver cells are damaged and replaced by scar tissue which affects the blood flow and other liver parts. Lack of a fluent flow, combined with the reduction of liver cells, the liver cannot perform their necessary functions. It gradually becomes weak and hard.
When signs and symptoms of liver cirrhosis occur, they may include the mentioned ones in previous stages, and:
- Easily bleeding or bruising
- Swelling in your legs, feet or ankles (edema)
- Itchy skin
- Yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes (jaundice)
If you keep drinking at this stage, you will damage more remarkably your liver, leading to liver cancer, and even death.
#4. Liver cancer
Liver cancer is the result of ARLD. Major risk factors include excessive alcohol intake, hepatitis, and diabetes. At this stage, the tumors appear in the liver, then spread to other organs, causing functional loss of the liver.