There are different ways that alcohol can cause a
problem with the liver:
[Please note that the liver takes toxins out of the
body and converts them into a non toxic form the
the body can dispose of}
1) The liver takes the alcohol, and using the liver
enzymes the liver cells make, converts it first to
acetaldehyde, then to acetate, then to CO2 and
water. (there is alot more steps than this, this is
just general). When someone over consumes
alcohol fast, it can overwhelm the liver in trying
to convert it and can cause damage to the liver cells.
Getting drunk is the first thing that shows the liver
isn't handling it well.
2) Fat infiltration can start to build up inside the liver.
This usually takes place with those who drink on
a continual basis. The fat puts pressure in the liver
that can also build up and cause damage to the liver
cells. This is Fatty liver disease or Steatohepatitis
(Fatty liver Inflammation) which causes the liver to
enlarge in size.
3) Sensitivity to alcohol: just as any other drug...
some people can have an allergic reaction to or their
body is sensitive to it. This means it doesn't take
much for some people to respond to the alcohol
being in their bodies, where it would cause no problem
4) Interaction with other things, like drugs.
Most know now about acetaminophen overdose causing
damage to the liver.. Taking alcohol with this drug and/
or other medications can cause irreversible damage to
the liver cells almost immediately.
Simple blood testing done by a doctor can tell a person
so much about how their liver is doing.
The liver blood enzymes give an idea if there is damage
to the liver cells (known as the ALT,AST,GGT,ALP),
the liver function blood tests give an idea of how well
the cells of the liver are able to do the liver's functions
(known as the Bilirubin, INR, Albumin, Pt, Ptt).
The liver viral blood tests can show if a virus is
using the liver cells to replicate itself (virus like
Hepatitis A,B,C,ETC), The liver cancer test
(known as the Alpha Feto protein).
It is definitely worth getting checked.
Since you already have liver disease in your family...
then you know that there may not be any real signs
of the disease (except for tiredness and flu like symptoms)
until the cells of the liver are unable to do some of their
functions. Then the first sign of this would be Jaundice.
Each person is different in what would be safe to
drink for them, as you can tell by the things I wrote above.
When someone develops liver disease (from any number
of different causes) it usually follows the same course.
The liver cells become damaged. The immune system
of the body responds to this damage and causes
inflammation inside the liver. This will cause the liver
to enlarge in size, even though it is surrounded by
a tight membrane capsule. If the cause is not removed,
it can lead to where the liver cells start to die off.
The dead cells form scar tissue inside the liver that
blocks the flow of blood through the liver. More
cells continue to die off as the blood cannot reach them.
It is then a progressive, irreversible disease known
as Cirrhosis of the liver. The liver is slowly dying inside
the patient. Liver transplants cost $300,000 and up.
Those who do drink have to be detoxed from alcohol
for a period of six months prior to being evaluated
for the liver transplant list...no matter how far
advanced they are in this disease.
I hope this information has been of help to you.
caregiver to a liver transplant patient