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Alcoholic hepatitis – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, January 03, 2018 by

Alcoholic hepatitis is one of the two most common liver diseases in the U.S. It is a type of liver inflammation that typically develops suddenly, and often occurs right alongside underlying liver damage or fat accumulation linked with long-term, heavy drinking. It is estimated that around 10 to 35 percent of people with alcohol-related liver disease eventually develop alcoholic hepatitis, according to information from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).

Compared with Hepatitis C, which is often referred to as the silent killer, alcoholic hepatitis is known to be an abrupt illness with various symptoms that depend on severity. Patients who already have cirrhosis as well as those who are malnourished tend to experience more severe symptoms with alcoholic hepatitis.

Known side effects of alcoholic hepatitis

Alcoholic hepatitis usually comes with a number of different signs and symptoms, such as fever, jaundice, vomiting, nausea, poor appetite, lack of energy, rapid heart rate, upper abdominal pain, and liver enlargement.

The development of alcoholic hepatitis often leads to cirrhosis in patients who don’t have it already, which makes it quite ominous. According to the AASLD, the development of cirrhosis may still occur even if alcohol consumption is completely stopped. In the most severe cases of alcoholic hepatitis, particularly in people who already have signs of liver failure and cirrhosis, death can come within days to months.

Body systems harmed by alcoholic hepatitis

Alcoholic hepatitis occurs in people who consume excessive amounts of alcohol over an extended period of time. Far from affecting just the liver, it also affects other parts of the body, such as:

  • Pancreas
  • Brain
  • Kidneys

Food items or nutrients that may prevent alcoholic hepatitis

As with many other diseases, a healthy, balanced diet will go a long way towards treating alcoholic hepatitis. The body needs all the right nutrients in order to fight against such a deadly disease.

First and foremost, it’s important to avoid salty foods and to not add salt to foods you eat, in order to reduce the risks of a built-up of fluid. It’s also important to consume carbohydrates in order to produce enough energy and protein from your diet. Finally, fats should also be part of your diet.

Treatments, management plans for alcoholic hepatitis

The treatment of alcoholic hepatitis can be done mostly through proper nutrition. One of the major risk factors for alcoholic hepatitis is malnutrition, and another is obesity. Researchers have found that the degree of malnutrition is closely correlated with the development of serious liver diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis. As such, fixing diet issues is of utmost importance in the fight against it.

Patients who are unable to reach their nutritional needs daily should be given proper supplementation, and an enteral route is preferred whenever possible.

The administration of corticosteroids is also viewed as the main treatment for severe cases of alcoholic hepatitis, as log as patients don’t have any contraindications for steroid treatment.

Where to learn more


Alcoholic hepatitis is one of the most common liver diseases in the U.S. and often occurs suddenly and develops abruptly.

Alcoholic hepatitis can often lead to the development of cirrhosis in patients, especially those who are suffering from malnutrition.

Alcoholic hepatitis can be treated through proper diet and nutrition, as well as through the use of corticosteroids.

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