Liver pain after drinking can be experienced in different ways; most commonly, as a dull, throbbing sensation in the upper right abdomen, but sometimes, it feels like a powerful stabbing sensation. The pain may be accompanied by swelling, and the person may also feel the pain travel up the back or in the right shoulder blade.
The liver’s primary purpose is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to other areas of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs, and as it does so, it discharges bile that goes back in the intestines. The liver also creates proteins that are vital for blood clotting and other functions.
The liver isn’t often a cause of pain, but if you do feel liver pain after drinking, it’s a sign that something is happening in the body that needs a closer inspection. If the liver is damaged, it may not be noticed until the damage is quite serious.
How Does Alcohol Affect the Liver?
The liver is responsible for processing all of the alcohol that enters the system but is only able to handle a small amount at a time. When a person drinks, alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream via the stomach and small intestine.
This blood enters the liver in order to be filtered of harmful or foreign substances, including alcohol, before passing to the other areas of the body. Once in the liver, alcohol creates an enzyme called acetaldehyde that can harm liver cells and lead to irreversible scarring.
How Long Does it Take to Incur Alcohol-Related Damage to the Liver?
Liver damage develops in stages. The first is called steatosis, also known as fatty liver, which is a condition that occurs among most people who drink heavily.
It is the first stage of liver disease and is characterized by fat accumulation in the liver cells. Fortunately, this damage is reversible if alcohol consumption is stopped.
The second stage is known as alcoholic hepatitis and develops if excessive drinking continues after the onset of steatosis. Mild alcoholic hepatitis induces inflammation in the liver, resulting in progressive damage that can persist for years before developing into the next stage, cirrhosis.
However, acute alcoholic hepatitis can result in liver failure and life-threatening complications in just days. Alcoholic hepatitis is also reversible if drinking is discontinued.
The last stage is liver cirrhosis, a condition in which healthy liver cells and tissue are displaced by scar tissue, impairing the liver’s ability to function correctly. Approximately 10-20 percent of heavy drinkers will develop liver cirrhosis after at least ten years of excessive alcohol consumption, and this damage is permanent.
Alcohol-Related Liver Disease: Statistics
Between 8-10 percent of Americans report drinking heavily, and 10-15 percent of them will suffer an alcohol-related liver disease. Alcohol-related liver disease occurs due to liver damage from years of regular, heavy drinking, and can further develop into liver cirrhosis.
Alcohol-Related Liver Disease: Symptoms
The main symptom for steatosis is upper-right abdominal pains near the liver. Once the liver damage progresses further into acute hepatitis, typical symptoms include fever, abdominal pains, nausea and vomiting, and jaundice. Following acute hepatitis, cirrhosis scars the liver and impairs its functioning, causing symptoms like bleeding of the esophagus, kidney failure, and cancer of the liver.
Alcohol-Related Liver Pain
If you have liver pain after drinking, visit your physician to get a diagnosis. Your doctor will likely perform a biopsy on your liver, as well as a blood test to survey your overall liver function and assess any damage that may have occurred.
In case your physician prescribes total abstinence from alcohol consumption, or if you wish to improve your own liver health, it is a good idea to attend an alcohol counseling program. Moreover, your physician will also likely prescribe a supplementary regimen of vitamins A and B to help your liver repair itself.
Nonetheless, if the liver scarring has become severe enough to impede essential liver function, you will likely require a liver transplant.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Alcoholism is a chronic disease that has no known cure, but it can be effectively treated using an integrated approach and evidence-based therapies. More severe forms of alcoholism should be addressed in a long-term rehab where patients can be supervised and receive support while they undergo treatment. Milder forms of alcoholism can be addressed in an outpatient format.
Our center employs knowledgeable addiction professionals who deliver these services to our clients with care and expertise. We provide the tools that clients need to achieve sobriety, reclaim their lives, and experience long-lasting wellness.
If you have an alcohol addiction, please contact us as soon as possible. You can restore your sanity – find out how we can help!