Alcoholic Hepatitis

by Michael_Koger

Alcoholic hepatitis is a global public health problem which can be quite devastating for the patient.

Alcoholic hepatitis is an acute inflammatory condition which is, of course, the result of excessive intake of alcohol. Not all who drink will develop this disease; in fact, some binge drinkers may never have it. Like many other medical conditions, it may be mild or severe, and the most advanced cases tend to have have the worst clinical outcome [1, 2].

When this is a severe condition, it can be devastating for the patient. Of those clients who have severe alcoholic hepatitis, a quarter of them will die from it [1]. The major clinical abnormality is decompensation of the liver [1, 2].

Occurrence of Alcoholic Liver Disease

Excessive alcohol intake is quite common across the globe, and it is a leading cause of preventable death.  Most people who drink heavily have fatty liver changes.  Some will have cirrhosis of the liver, and one to two percent of those clients will ultimately get a diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma [1].  Alcoholic cirrhosis is the eighth most common cause of death in the United States [1].

Over the years, the occurrence of alcoholic hepatitis has increased.  There are several types of alcoholic liver disease, but this is the most advanced form.  In the United States, the prevalence of alcoholic hepatitis in heavy drinkers may be 20 percent.  The number of new cases each year in that country is not clear [1]. 

Risk Factors

Some alcoholics will be more prone than others to develop hepatitis, and this may have to do with genetic predisposition, gender, age, or the presence of overweight or obesity.  Women tend to be more susceptible than men because women have greater body fat content than men.  There are also variations in metabolism between men and women, and these may place women at especial risk [1, 2].

Nutrition has a significant role for its occurrence.  Those who consume too much alcohol tend to become deficient in several vitamins and minerals.  Moreover, the presence of other types of liver disease will increase the patient’s risk [1, 2].

The most effective intervention for this medical condition is cessation of alcohol intake.  However, some patients who eventually stop or reduce their consumption will still progress to the disease      [1, 2].

Conclusion

Alcoholic hepatitis is a serious medical condition which occurs across the globe.  Cessation of alcohol intake is the most important approach to prevent or lessen its occurrence and severity.

References

  1. Dugum, M., Zein, N., McCullough, A., et al.  (2015).  Alcoholic hepatitis:  Challenges in diagnosis and management.  Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 82, 226-236.
  2. Drinane, M. and Shah, V.  (2013).  Alcoholic hepatitis:  Diagnosis and prognosis.  Clinical Liver Disease, 2, 80-83.
  3. The photo is a microscopic view of human liver and shows Mallory bodies, which are present in some patients with alcoholic hepatitis.

Disclaimer

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 04/26/2015, Michael_Koger
 
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