Supplementary Reading Read and translate the text. Answer the questions. What may alcohol abuse result in?
What is alcohol- and drug-induced hepatitis caused by?
What are the symptoms of alcohol- and drug-induced hepatitis?
How is alcohol- and drug-induced hepatitis treated?
What is the cause of fatty liver disease?
How is it possible to prevent liver failure?
Alcohol-or Drug-Induced Liver Disease
Among its many functions, the liver serves to cleanse the body of toxins. A continual barrage of toxins such as alcohol can eventually ravage the organ. Alcohol abuse can result in several types of damage to the liver, which, if left unchecked, can progress to cirrhosis and, finally, liver failure.
Alcohol- or drug-induced hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by exposure to alcohol, illegal drugs, over-the-counter or prescription medicines, some health food store products, and chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride or chloroform. While heavy, long-term use of alcohol (more than two drinks per day) is the most frequent cause, it can sometimes result from moderate drinking.
Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol, can cause severe liver damage when taken in combination with alcohol. It may also affect the liver without the presence of alcohol.
Symptoms of alcohol or drug induced-hepatitis include jaundice, light-coloured stools, lingering fatigue that may last for weeks or months, loss of appetite, and flu-like symptoms (fever, nausea, and vomiting). Some individuals with alcoholic hepatitis are asymptomatic (no symptoms).
Decreased consumption of alcohol is the best way to avoid alcoholic liver disease. In most patients, the inflammation of the liver lasts approximately two weeks. Alcoholic hepatitis can be fatal in rare cases, particularly if there is prior liver damage.
Treatment involves ceasing consumption of alcohol or other substances that caused the hepatitis, in order to allow the liver to heal itself.
Fatty liver, or steatohepatitis, is another liver disorder that may be alcohol-induced, occurring when fat permeates the liver. Its exact causes are not known, although scientists theorize that a damaged liver may be less capable of processing (metabolizing) fat, causing it to accumulate. Fatty liver has no particular symptoms of its own, but rather is seen in combination with conditions like alcohol abuse, diabetes, tuberculosis, obesity, poor diet, and the use of corticosteroids. It is reversible; as soon as drinking alcohol ceases the fat will subside. It is not associated with scarring or inflammation of the liver.
Cirrhosis, or fibrous scarring, results from chronic liver disease or severe damage to the liver, in which the blood flow is obstructed and the liver is unable to perform its functions.
Liver failure is the final stage of cirrhosis. Toxins build up in the body, and the effects of alcohol and drugs become cumulative. There is no cure for liver failure, except for a transplant.