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Chronic Liver Disease

Jun 18, 2024

Years of drinking excessively could mean harming your liver with every sip. Chronic liver damage is a serious consequence of long-term alcohol addiction. In this blog post from Hanley Center, we’ll introduce proactive methods to deal with a chronic liver disease diagnosis and explain how to include it into a comprehensive treatment plan.

SUMMARY: Chronic liver disease involves sustained liver damage and inflammation, progressing to potentially irreversible cirrhosis. Its symptoms, ranging from ascites to jaundice, vary in severity. Major causes include alcohol abuse and hepatitis, leading to conditions like cirrhosis. Diagnosis involves blood tests, imaging, and sometimes liver biopsy. Immediate intervention is crucial, with alcohol cessation paramount. Hanley Center offers comprehensive detox and treatment programs for lasting recovery.

What is Chronic Liver Disease?

Chronic liver disease is a broad category of disorders characterized by sustained liver damage and inflammation, resulting in reduced liver function and potentially irreversible scarring known as cirrhosis. Chronic liver disease, as opposed to transient liver diseases such as fatty liver or alcoholic hepatitis, which may present with minor symptoms at first and may resolve with lifestyle changes, progresses gradually over decades, often covertly. While infrequent alcohol use may not have a substantial impact on liver function, consistent and heavy drinking increases the risk of chronic liver disease. The liver gradually succumbs to alcohol’s harmful effects, causing inflammation, fatty infiltration, and, eventually, fibrosis and cirrosis. This advanced stage of liver damage poses significant health risks and requires extensive medical intervention and lifestyle changes to prevent further deterioration.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

Common Symptoms of Chronic Liver Disease

Symptoms of chronic liver disease can resemble those of other health conditions, and their severity may vary based on the stage of the disease. The following symptoms are commonly reported by individuals diagnosed with chronic liver disease.

●     Ascites (fluid buildup in the belly)
●     Confusion (as toxins build up in the blood)
●     Easy bruising
●     Fatigue (low energy and weakness)
●     Gallstones
●     Itching
●     Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
●     Kidney failure
●     Loss of appetite
●     Loss of muscle
●     Spider-like veins in the skin
●     Vomiting blood, often from bleeding in the blood vessels in the food pipe
●     Weight loss

How Does Chronic Liver Disease Occur?

Chronic liver disease can be caused by a variety of conditions, the most common of which are alcohol addiction and hepatitis. Alcohol consumption initiates a damaging cascade, beginning with the liver’s conversion of alcohol into toxic metabolites. Prolonged excessive drinking causes inflammation, fatty liver disease, and, finally, cirrhosis—the gradual scarring of liver tissue. Hepatitis viruses, particularly hepatitis B and C, can cause serious damage to the liver, aggravating the progression of chronic liver disease. Also, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is fueled by metabolic syndrome-related illnesses such as obesity and high cholesterol, contributes significantly to the growing global prevalence of liver problems.

How Is It Diagnosed?

If you suspect you may have chronic liver disease, seeking diagnosis is crucial. Your healthcare provider will begin by reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical examination. To confirm a diagnosis of cirrhosis, you may undergo several tests. Blood tests will assess liver function and clotting ability. A liver biopsy may be performed to analyze tissue samples under a microscope for disease identification. Imaging tests such as CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds provide detailed views of liver and abdominal health. Additionally, an upper endoscopy may be recommended to inspect the upper digestive tract for signs of bleeding. Treatment may involve dietary changes, diuretics, and fluid drainage if ascites (fluid buildup in the belly) is present.

How Can You Respond to It?

Immediate intervention is required after being diagnosed with chronic liver disease to reduce the risk of consequences. Cirrhosis, a typical complication of chronic liver disease, can cause several major health problems. Portal hypertension, caused by impeded blood flow, can create swollen blood vessels that are prone to rupture, resulting in life-threatening hemorrhage. Ascites, or fluid collection in the belly, is an infection risk. Furthermore, liver malfunction can cause kidney difficulties, diabetes, and an increased risk of bruising and bleeding. Given the concerns, managing alcohol misuse is critical. Alcohol abstinence is critical for preventing further liver damage and slowing the advancement of cirrhosis, ultimately improving prognosis and quality of life.

Getting Help at Hanley Center

At Hanley Center, we prioritize safe and effective alcohol detoxification through our medically supervised detox program. Our experienced medical staff, including specialized personnel equipped to address the medical needs of patients with chronic liver disease, ensures a comfortable and monitored detox process, minimizing withdrawal symptoms and complications. Following detox, clients receive personalized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs, including comprehensive alcohol use disorder treatment. Our approach integrates evidence-based interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing, to address underlying issues and promote lasting recovery. For individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders, our dual diagnosis treatment offers specialized care. Moreover, our commitment to long-term success extends beyond treatment completion, with continuing care plans designed to support clients in their journey toward sustained sobriety. At Hanley Center, we provide the tools and support necessary for individuals to achieve lasting recovery and reclaim their lives.

Hanley Foundation’s Hanley Center has been helping people all over the country achieve wellness for more than 40 years. In addition to providing age- and gender-specific treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders, Hanley offers a boutique residential mental health program for adults. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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