Liver disease due to alcohol; Cirrhosis or hepatitis - alcoholic; Laennec's cirrhosis
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Alcoholic liver disease usually occurs after years of drinking too much. The longer the alcohol use has occurred, and the more alcohol that was consumed, the greater the likelihood of developing liver disease.
Alcohol may cause swelling and inflammation (hepatitis) in the liver. Over time, this can lead to scarring and then cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is the final phase of alcoholic liver disease.
Other important factors include:
Alcoholic liver disease may be more common in some families
This disease does not occur in all heavy drinkers
You do not have to get drunk for the disease to develop
Women may be more susceptible than men
People who drink too much, too often do not get enough healthy foods and nutrients. Poor nutrition may make liver disease worse.
Acute alcoholic hepatitis may be caused by binge drinking (five drinks for men, four drinks for women). It may be life-threatening.
Symptoms vary based on the severity of the disease. They are usually worse after a recent period of heavy drinking.
Symptoms may not be present until the disease is advanced.
George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.