Tag Archives: alcoholism

The Dangers of a Fatty Liver

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic fatty liver disease are two subtypes of a dangerous condition whereby a person’s liver is comprised of over 5-10% fat. While fatty liver disease is generally a reversible condition, if it is left unchecked, it can be fatal in its later stages.

What Are the Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease can be asymptomatic initially, or it may cause such symptoms as: fatigue, weight loss or loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, confusion or poor concentration. It may also cause an enlarged liver. Eventually, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can lead to cirrhosis (irreversible scarring) of the liver, which is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Gynecomastia
  • An enlarged spleen
  • Enlarged blood vessels under the skin
  • Jaundice (yellowed skin)
  • Reddened palms

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by exactly what its title suggests: consuming too much alcohol. It could be the result of long term alcoholism, or it could even be caused by one or two large-scale drinking binges. Some people have a genetic predisposition that may prevent their body from efficiently breaking down alcohol, making them more likely to develop alcoholic fatty liver disease. Luckily, many cases of alcoholic fatty liver disease are reversible if the person abstains from drinking more alcohol, but if it is left untreated and the person continues to drink, they are risking deadly liver complications.

Causes of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

While every case is different and the exact causes aren’t always pinpointed, some causes may include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Losing a large amount of weight too quickly
  • Certain medications
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Certain viruses
  • High triglyceride level in the blood or high cholesterol
  • A chronically poor, or high fat diet may contribute
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • Insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes is highly associated with fatty liver disease)
  • Those with diabetes, thyroid problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome or sleep apnea are at higher risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease than others.
  • Rarely, pregnancy can cause fat to build up in the liver

Diagnosis and Treatment

Fatty liver disease is typically diagnosed when routine blood test screening of the liver (such as the ALT or GTT test) shows abnormal readings. It can also be diagnosed if the liver feels enlarged during a physical examination or ultrasound test. The doctor will likely order further tests to confirm his or her suspicion of a fatty liver. Treatment for fatty liver disease usually focuses more on lifestyle modification and treating comorbid conditions such as hyperglycemia or high cholesterol. If the person has alcoholic fatty liver disease the primary objective is break the dependency and have the patient quit drinking completely. If the patient is overweight, a healthier diet would be implemented and weight loss of 5-10% of the person’s overall body weight would be recommended.

That concludes our look at fatty liver disease, thank-you for visiting DocChat!

QUIZ – How Much Do You Know About Alcohol Use Versus Abuse?

The line between use versus abuse may not be as clear as it seems – do you know how much alcohol is in one drink? Or how about what constitutes an episode of binge drinking? Let’s find out. Take a look at the statements below – are they true or false? Try to give the quiz a shot before looking at the answers below. You can write “T or F” for each number on a piece of paper and check your answers at the end. No scrolling down!

  1. Between 30-40 thousand deaths are caused by alcohol abuse each year.
  2. Alcohol is the third most used and abused addictive substance in the United States.
  3. Aside from those in the maternity or intensive care units, up to 40% of American hospital patients are there because of alcohol-related health issues.
  4. Alcoholism increases the risk of oral, organ and intestinal cancers.
  5. Men are more likely to be involved in a fatal alcohol-related car accident.
  6. Frequent binge drinking is not as much of a concern as daily alcohol dependence.
  7. Adults 25 and younger engage in the majority of binge drinking episodes.
  8. One alcoholic drink contains about 1.2 tablespoons of pure alcohol.
  9. You are considered a ‘moderate drinker’ if you are a male who has 2 drinks daily, or a female who has 1 drink daily.
  10. Approximately 5 or more drinks for men, and 4 or more drinks for women on a single occasion constitutes an episode of binge drinking.




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  1. FALSE. Over 88,000 Americans die because of alcohol abuse annually.
  2. FALSE. Alcohol is actually the number 1 most used addictive substance in the United States. Furthermore, the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Defense (NCADD) approximates that 1 in every 12 American adults (about 17.6 million) abuses or is dependent on alcohol.
  3. TRUE. According to the NCADD, excluding maternity and ICU, approximately 40% of hospital beds at any given hospital in the United States are being used to treat alcohol-related (or alcohol-exacerbated) health conditions at any given time.
  4. TRUE. Alcoholism increases the risk of certain cancers, such as esophageal, mouth, throat, larynx and liver.
  5. TRUE. Men are actually twice as likely as women to be involved in an alcohol-related car accident death.
  6. FALSE. Participating in regular binge drinking episodes can have just as many negative effects as someone who drinks less daily.
  7. FALSE. According to the CDC, adults 26 and older account for 70% of binge drinking episodes. However, while youth do drink less often than older adults, when they do drink it is almost always dangerous binge-style.
  8. TRUE. One drink contains about 0.6 ounces (or 1.2 tablespoons) of alcohol.
  9. TRUE. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1 drink daily for men and 2 for women constitutes moderate drinking.
  10. TRUE. According to the CDC, approximately 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women on a single occasion constitutes an episode of binge drinking.

How did you do? Hopefully 10/10! Feel free to try our Smoking Quiz next. To read more about signs of addiction and how to get help, check out our post on alcohol abuse. Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Binge Drinking Part 2 – Risk Factors and Treatment

As we mentioned in Part 1 enjoying the occasional evening of drinks is perfectly normal, but if you find yourself constantly biding time until the next party, passing out from drinking, or if others take issue with your partying ways, it may be time for a doctor’s visit.

Risk Factors for Developing Alcohol Problems

People are at greater risk of developing drinking problems if they started binge drinking early, had a parent or close relative with alcohol problems, or hang around with people who frequently drink. Those suffering from certain mental health conditions may be at higher risk of developing problems with alcohol as well.

Is An Intervention Necessary?

It may be time for action if you, a friend, or family member is showing signs such as:

1. Having tried and failed to cut down on drinking

2. Spends much of their time either drinking or hungover from parties

3. Develops an inclining tolerance for alcohol

4. Is touchy, defensive or confrontational when the topic of alcohol abuse arises

5. Makes poor decisions such as drinking and driving

6. Fails to fulfill social or work-related obligations

People with alcohol disorders or problems are often in denial about their alcohol abuse, so sometimes friends and family may need to intervene to bring the problem to the person’s full attention. It may not go over well at first, but if family and friends encourage the person to seek treatment, they will often come around and do so.

What To Ask The Doctor

If you or a loved one feels out of control of drinking habits, it is time to talk to a professional about treatment. When you go to your appointment, your doctor will want to know certain information including your symptoms, any medications you take, exactly how much you drink or if there is any family history of alcoholism. You should prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor such as:
– Should I quit, or just cut back on my drinking?
– Is my drinking making health problems worse or caused me to develop new ones?
– Can you perform some tests to see if my drinking is effecting my physical health?
– Can you refer me to a therapist?
– What other treatment options are available for me?

Treatment Options And Lifestyle Changes

Depending on the severity of the patient’s problem, a doctor may recommend such treatment as:

  • Detoxing – cleansing one’s system of alcohol to help decrease or eliminate dependence, some people have to attend rehab facilities for this if they are unable to do so unassisted.
  • Psychological counseling – can help with any emotional or mental damage created by drinking, as well as help the person develop healthier coping mechanisms when they crave alcohol.
  • Changing lifestyle – people trying to get over alcohol issues may have to replace the time they would have spent drinking with another more beneficial activity such as group yoga, or going out for frozen yogurt with a group of friends a couple times a week.
  • Medications – sometimes depending on the severity of the situation, a doctor may recommend a medication such as Vivitrol to help someone combat alcoholism
  • Treating health issues – there may be subsequent damage done to the body if drinking has occurred over many years, these issues must be addressed and corrected for the person to live a healthy, happy new life.
  • Community support – some people with alcohol problems find it beneficial to attend community support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Societal Efforts To Curtail Bingeing

Governments have taken several steps toward discouraging binge drinking and preventing drinking-related issues such as:

  • Imposing additional taxes and tariffs on alcohol
  • Creating public awareness campaigns such as ‘Designated Drivers’
  • Shop liability for alcohol sold to underage customers
  • Strongly enforced laws such as underage drinking and drunk driving
  • Limiting stores that sell alcohol to only a few per city and restricting hours of sale

Thanks for stopping by DocChat! If you have any concerns about binge drinking or other alcohol problems, please feel free to contact one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians today.