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Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol

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Drinking too much alcohol can cause a build-up of fat in your liver. It can lead to scarring of liver tissue, known as cirrhosis. Liver function decreases depending on how much scarring occurs. Fatty tissue can also build up in your liver if you drink little or no alcohol. This is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Certain non-specific symptoms of NAFLD can interfere with quality of life.

According to a study published in the journal Karger, patients with NAFLD describe a range of non-specific symptoms, which include fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

The study noted: “On direct questioning, problems with memory and concentration are frequently described by those with NAFLD, american association of allied health professionals with our studies confirming that 50 percent of NAFLD patients experience mild cognitive symptoms and up to 46 percent moderate or severe cognitive impairment.”

The proportion of recurrent fallers is significantly higher in a NAFLD cohort compared to controls, emergency medical attention and hospital admission all significantly more common in the NAFLD group, they found.

According to the researchers, falls are also considered a direct consequence of autonomic nervous system dysfunction.

Recent studies have confirmed the presence of autonomic nervous system dysfunction in those with early stages of NAFLD.

Autonomic nervous system dysfunction is a condition where the autonomic nervous system (ANS) does not work properly.


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Other signs of NAFLD include:

  • Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged liver or spleen (usually observed by a doctor during an exam)
  • Ascites, or swelling in the belly
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes

If NAFLD progresses to cirrhosis, symptoms may include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Internal bleeding
  • Fluid retention
  • Loss of healthy liver function


Losing weight is one of the best ways to significantly help reduce a person’s risk of developing NAFLD.

However, losing weight too quickly can make NAFLD worse.

A healthier way to lose weight is to do it gradually with a balanced diet and regular exercise, said the Mayo Clinic.

The health site: “People who have alcoholic fatty liver disease may be able to reverse liver damage and inflammation or prevent it from getting worse by not consuming alcohol.

“However, this will not reverse cirrhosis.

“Some people might find giving up alcohol extremely difficult, but a doctor can advise on how to do so in a safe and supported way.”
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