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Signs Your Liver is Healing from Alcohol

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You know that alcohol abuse can be harmful to your liver. But are you aware that this damage may be reversible? Giving your body the opportunity to repair itself is one of the many benefits of getting professional help for alcohol addiction. Once you’ve stopped drinking, you may soon notice several signs your liver is healing from alcohol.

How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect the Liver?

As we alluded to in the previous section, it’s relatively common knowledge that alcohol abuse is not good for your liver. Beyond this general statement, though, many people don’t understand how, exactly, drinking can compromise this vital organ.

Your liver serves as a filter of sorts for your body. As blood passes through the liver, this organ removes toxins and other unneeded or potentially dangerous elements. Your body can then eliminate these elements via urine and feces.

As described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), here’s one example of how this process plays out when alcohol is involved:

  • Two enzymes in your liver – alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) – begin to break down alcohol molecules.
  • ADH converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, a toxin that has been linked with certain types of cancer.
  • The enzymes then convert acetaldehyde into a substance called acetate, which is far less dangerous.
  • Acetate is then further broken down into water and carbon dioxide, both of which can be easily eliminated from your body.

When you consume large amounts of alcohol over an extended period of time, the strain that this behavior places on your liver can cause several problems. For example, if your liver fails to convert acetaldehyde into acetate, this can lead to a buildup of a dangerous toxin in your system. The NIAAA reports that, in addition to liver cancer, acetaldehyde has also been linked to cancer in the breast, colon, rectum, and upper respiratory tract. 

Of course, cancer is not the only problem that can result from chronic alcohol abuse. NIAAA data indicates that about 90% of people with a history of heavy drinking will develop a disease known as fatty liver. In some of these individuals, fatty liver will progress to alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Symptoms of Liver Damage From Alcohol Abuse

Before you can appreciate the signs your liver is healing from alcohol, you need to be able to recognize the symptoms of alcohol-related liver damage. 

Initially, people who have fatty liver may experience no obvious symptoms. This can be problematic, because the lack of apparent symptoms does not mean that the liver is unharmed. But if a person has no obvious signs of distress, they may see no reason to curtail their drinking. By the time symptoms begin to appear, considerable damage may have already occurred.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the first symptoms of fatty liver can include:

  • Pain in the upper right area of the abdomen
  • Unexplained, unintentional weight loss
  • Exhaustion and weakness

If fatty liver progresses to alcoholic hepatitis, you may begin to notice the following signs:

  • Stronger pain near your liver
  • Continued weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of your skin and eyes (which is referred to as jaundice)
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Nausea and vomiting

Alcoholic cirrhosis, which is the most severe stage of alcoholic liver disease, may cause symptoms such as the following:

  • Itchy skin
  • Swelling in your lower legs and feet
  • Frequent, easy bruising and bleeding
  • Darkened urine
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Disrupted menstruation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Testicular shrinking
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Memory problems
  • Cognitive delays

If you continue drinking to the point that you develop alcoholic cirrhosis, it is likely that much of the damage your liver has sustained will be permanent. This is why it is so important to seek proper medical attention when you first experience symptoms. It is also yet another reason why you should seek professional assistance to help you end your alcohol abuse for good.

Signs Your Liver is Healing From Alcohol

If you stop drinking in time, you may begin to notice several improvements that you may not even realize are related to your liver.

The signs your liver is healing from alcohol can include both physical and psychological changes, such as the following:

  • You have begun to think more clearly, and you no longer struggle with memory problems.
  • You aren’t tired all the time. You have more energy and a greater sense of motivation.
  • You are no longer experiencing severe abdominal pain.
  • Your appetite has returned, and your weight has begun to stabilize.
  • The jaundice (yellowing of your eyes and skin) has begun to fade away.

Some signs your liver is healing from alcohol are not obvious, but they can be detected in blood tests and other medical procedures. Though they may not be immediately noticeable, these signs can be extremely important, which is why (again) it can be essential to get help both for your alcohol addiction and for the impact that alcohol abuse has had on your body.

Find Treatment for Alcohol Addiction in Nashville, TN

Nashville Treatment Solutions offers an array of customizable services for adults who have become addicted to alcohol and other substances. our alcohol rehab in Nashville include detox, partial hospitalization programming, intensive outpatient programming, and traditional outpatient rehab. In each of these programs, you can expect to receive superior clinical care and personalized support from a team of skilled professionals.

To learn more about treatment for alcohol addiction at Nashville Treatment Solutions, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our admissions page or call us today.