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Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: What's the difference between a swollen liver&Hep/cirrhosis?


 finnerfag - Wed Sep 17, 2008 6:13 pm

In 2003, I voluntarily checked into a reputable treatment center for my severe alcoholism. I had pretty much been drinking vodka to the point of intoxication almost every single day from when I started my education at Purdue (1995) until I graduated (1999.) It continued and worsened even when I met my future wife in 2001. 2003 was what I consider to be my peak of lowness. Between 1997 to 2003, I've probably been sober 25 days at most. I curbed drinking for very sporadic durations of times (between 1 week to 2 months) up until now. I'm 31. I have a 2 year old daughter, a job, and am still drinking everyday. I feel myself getting to the point where I was years ago; I believe I'd violently shake if I even attempted to stop. I'm a dedicated husband and daddy. I have wonderful family support, but no one, including my wife, knows how much I'm drinking now. I started getting drunk off & on at 16, and haven't looked back since.

When I checked myself into a hospital in '03, they told me that my liver was swollen. I don't recall anything about Hep, but I'm not sure what the difference is. I've looked up the symptoms of Hep and cirrhosis. I am experiencing the following symptoms: chronic nausea, extreme fatigue even with enough rest, loss of muscle mass/weakness, mental confusion, and what worries me the most is the swelling of my chest and abdominal area. My body's tough. I'm 6'4 180lbs. and have been through this crap for so long without any real serious physical ailments resulting from my alcoholism. This time, although, I'm getting kind of scared. My chest is sore and my abdomen is sore. Are these the signs of cirrhosis, in your opinion, based on my continual record of drinking?

Thanks so much for you input.
 Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:14 pm

User avatar Hello,

When you drink heavily you are at risk of serious liver problems (alcoholic liver diseases) as well as other organ affection including stomach problems, nervous health, cardiac, muscle, sexual and blood pressure problems.

Liver problems range from fatty liver to chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. Each can range from mild to severe form. Mild forms of diseases except cirrhosis can be reversed and or controlled with stopping alcohol.

Having a history of heavy alcohol intake for years makes chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis very likely. This will subsequently compromise your liver function and your general condition.

Chronic alcoholism and other organ affection will deteriorate your general condition too.

Investigations needed to confirm the degree of liver damage include blood tests for liver functions assessment. An ultrasound scan can identify the degree of liver damage. Sometimes to confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy is taken from the liver to confirm cirrhosis and exclude malignancy when suspected.

I advise you to follow up with your doctor to be properly examined and investigated.
Please keep us updated.
Best regards.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:27 am

User avatar Hello,
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by a number of organisms, viruses (several types such as A, B, C, D, E), trauma, auto-immune disorders, and alcoholism. Sometimes you develop fatty liver from alcohol use. In this case you will find improvement when you stop drinking. Cirrhosis means there is scarring in the liver from the damage. It can progress to liver cancer.

It is absolutely imperative that you get help now. When things have reached this point it is very difficult to get in control but it can be done with a support network. See your doctor to see what condition your liver is in and find a local treatment facility or mental health clinic that deals with substance abuse. Talk to your wife so she can get on board to help you.

Getting sober is the only way your liver may recover and I have little doubt you have some damage. Hopefully you will stop drinking so you can prevent further progression of liver disease.

Good luck and best wishes.

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