find your way:
services /Liver Disease

Liver Disease

How is alcoholic liver disease diagnosed?

A doctor may suspect that you have liver problems from your symptoms, and a physical examination. (For example, they may detect that your liver is enlarged, or that you are retaining fluid.) They may especially think of liver problems as a cause of your symptoms if you have a history of heavy alcohol drinking. Some tests may be done:

  • Blood tests may show abnormal liver function
  • An ultrasound scan may show that you have a damaged liver.
  • To confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy (small sample) of the liver may be taken to be looked at under the microscope. The scarring of the liver caused by cirrhosis, or the typical features of liver cells with alcoholic hepatitis can be seen on a biopsy sample.
What is the treatment for alcoholic liver disease?

For all types of liver disease caused by alcohol, you should stop drinking alcohol completely. Also, you may be referred to a dietician to review your diet. This is because many people who drink heavily do not eat properly and need advice on getting back into eating a healthy diet. Vitamin supplements may be prescribed for a while.

  • If you have fatty liver, or alcoholic hepatitis which is not severe, you should fully recover from these conditions if you stop drinking alcohol.
  • If you have severe hepatitis and require hospital admission, you may require intensive care treatment. Some people with severe hepatitis will die.
  • If you have cirrhosis, stopping drinking alcohol can improve your outlook. It depends on how severe the cirrhosis has become. If cirrhosis is diagnosed when it is not too advanced, and you stop drinking alcohol, the cirrhosis is unlikely to progress. However, the cirrhosis and symptoms will usually get worse if you continue to drink alcohol. In severe cases where the scarring is extensive, and the liver can barely function, then a liver transplant may be the only option.

More information on the condition is available via the NHS Choices website.