What Are the Symptoms of Alcoholic Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is the term that doctors use to describe inflammation of your liver, no matter what causes that inflammation. You have alcoholic hepatitis when your problems stem from repeated bouts of excessive drinking. The symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis appear in both a mild-to-moderate form that occurs in most affected individuals and a severe form that can easily lead to death.

Alcoholic Hepatitis Essentials

Alcoholic hepatitis is one of three liver diseases that can occur in people who habitually consume alcohol in large amounts. The least damaging of these conditions, alcoholic fatty liver disease, occurs when fat cells start to build up abnormally inside your liver. The third alcohol-related liver disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, occurs when scar tissue starts replacing healthy liver tissue. Roughly a third of all people who drink heavily will develop hepatitis as a consequence of their alcohol intake. More than half of all individuals with alcoholic hepatitis also develop alcoholic cirrhosis.

Mild-to-Moderate Symptoms

The most likely manifestation of mild-to-moderate alcoholic hepatitis is jaundice, a condition that produces abnormal yellowing of your skin and eye whites. Additional possible symptoms of this form of the disorder include:

  • A declining appetite
  • A low-grade fever or a more serious increase in body temperature
  • Lack of energy
  • Tenderness in your abdomen (especially in the upper right quadrant)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, and
  • An unexplained decline in body weight

Severe Symptoms

Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis in severely affected individuals can include:

  • Ascites (an abnormal buildup of fluid in your abdomen)
  • Abnormal behavior and a confused mental state (triggered by toxin accumulations in your liver)
  • Failure of normal liver function, and
  • Failure of normal kidney function

The appearance of these symptoms is extremely serious. As many as 40% of all people affected by them will die within a month unless they receive prompt, effective medical attention. Potentially severe or life-threatening conditions also sometimes found in people with severe alcoholic hepatitis include significant enlargement of nearby veins and hypertension (high blood pressure) localized inside the liver. In addition, malnutrition is a common issue in people with mild, moderate and severe alcoholic hepatitis. Those who struggle with alcohol abuse or are beginning to show symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis should seek alcohol abuse treatment as soon as possible.   Resources Mayo Clinic: Alcoholic Hepatitis – Symptoms and Causes https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcoholic-hepatitis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20163923 American Liver Foundation: Alcohol-Related Liver Disease https://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/alcohol/

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