Health & Wellness
The Hidden Dangers of Heavy Drinking: How it Can Lead to ALD
Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a serious condition affecting millions worldwide. It is a disease that worsens over time due to drinking too much alcohol. This article will discuss the signs and symptoms of ALD, as well as the risks and other related facts about the disease.
ALD & Heavy Drinking
According to sober coach Jessica Dueñas, many people are not aware of the risks of heavy drinking. “One thing that is kind of crazy in terms of signs, I didn’t know how much drinking was, quote, unquote, bad drinking.” I mean, today, I understand that just one drink is like a cigarette, right? It’s literally poison. It’s ethanol. There’s nothing good about alcohol being consumed. You know, the CDC has guidelines, and 15 drinks per man in a week is heavy. “Drinking eight drinks per woman in a week is heavy drinking, and that’s not common knowledge,” she says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define heavy drinking as consuming 15 or more drinks per week for men and eight or more drinks per week for women. This is important to know, as excessive alcohol consumption can lead to ALD and other serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
It’s not only heavy drinking that causes ALD but also binge drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting for men and four or more drinks in one sitting for women. This is particularly concerning since, according to Sober Coach Jessica Dueñas, “Alcoholic liver disease has been seen way more frequently in young folks, like people in their twenties, thirties, and forties, when you usually see it appearing in people in their fifties, sixties, and above.” “And that’s because we as a generation are doing a whole lot of excessive drinking.”
Jessica also shares that she was one of those people who was affected by ALD as a result of her own excessive drinking. “At the worst of my alcohol abuse alcoholism, I was drinking a fifth a day, and I probably drank a fifth a day of alcohol for about a year. But I was drinking, you know, on a much lighter spectrum in the years before that. But all of it was definitely on heavy disordered drinking.”
It’s important to note that alcohol can become a coping mechanism for many people, as Jessica explained, “And the thing, and I think about the years that I worked with other professionals and how many, for how many of them, it was normal to have a couple of glasses of wine a night. Right? And again, if it’s just eight is already considered heavy, imagine what, you know, those couple of drinks of wine or whatever mixed drink you’re having per day is doing to your liver.”
The really great news is that ALD is preventable. The most effective way to prevent the disease is to avoid excessive alcohol consumption. If you are experiencing symptoms of ALD, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of recovery.
Signs & Symptoms of ALD
The signs and symptoms of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) can vary depending on the stage of the disease and other factors. There may be no visible symptoms in the early stages, but as the disease progresses, symptoms may become more severe. The most common symptoms of ALD include:
- Jaundice: the yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Bruising and bleeding easily
- Spider-like blood vessels on the skin
- Itchy skin
The liver may become enlarged and tender to the touch as the disease progresses. In advanced stages of the disease, symptoms may also include:
- Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
- Enlarged blood vessels in the esophagus (varices)
- Confusion, drowsiness, and eventually coma (hepatic encephalopathy)
It’s important to note that some people with ALD may experience only a few of these symptoms or none at all. It’s also important to remember that other conditions, not just ALD can cause these symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to seek medical help if you suspect that you may have the disease. A doctor can perform tests to confirm the diagnosis and provide treatment options.
In conclusion, alcoholic liver disease is a serious condition affecting millions worldwide. It is a progressive disease that develops over time due to excessive alcohol consumption. The best way to avoid getting the disease is to not drink too much alcohol and get medical help immediately if you are showing signs of ALD. Remember that just one drink is like a cigarette, and it’s ethanol, and there’s nothing good about alcohol being consumed. Stay informed and make healthy choices for your body. As sober coach Jessica Dueñas puts it, “And by the time that I was physically dependent on it, again, I was drinking, I don’t even know how much, but at the end of it, I was drinking a fifth of liquor a day, which is 17 drinks in one day.” It’s important to understand the dangers of excessive drinking and how it can affect not only your physical health but also your mental health and emotional well-being. We can take steps to prevent and treat alcoholic liver disease by being aware of the risks and getting help when needed.
Alcohol and Osteoporosis: Does Drinking Impact Bone Health … – GoodRx. https://www.goodrx.com/conditions/osteoporosis/alcohol-and-osteoporosis
1 in 6 adults binge drink, defined as four to five drinks in a sitting. https://kyma.com/dsw-living/health/2021/10/15/1-in-6-adults-binge-drink-defined-as-four-to-five-drinks-in-a-sitting/
Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) – DoveMed. https://www.dovemed.com/diseases-conditions/alcoholic-liver-disease-ald/