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How Addiction Can Affect the Liver

Alcoholism and drug addiction can have devastating effects on sufferers. It is not just the person with the addiction who suffers emotionally and financially but also their family members. However, those with the illness are left with not only emotional and mental scars but also with physical ailments that can last for a long time. Some of the damage caused by alcohol and drug abuse can be permanent, so if you are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, you need to be alert to any medical issues that could be a result of years of substance abuse.

Aches and Pains

It is quite common for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics to suffer from a number of physical ailments after they have stopped taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Alcohol and drugs are chemical substances that affect almost every cell in the body, so it is not really surprising that it takes time for the body to repair any damage caused by addiction. Sometimes it can take up to a year for all the aches and pains to subside. While most of the symptoms will disappear with time, there are some that will simply never heal.

In the early days of your recovery, you most likely suffered from withdrawal symptoms such as acne, bleeding gums, abdominal pain and soreness, chest pain, dry eyes, heartburn, shaking, sweating, vomiting, nausea, and skin rashes. While most of these symptoms will be gone, you may still be suffering from sleeping problems, flashbacks, anxiety, fatigue, and memory problems.

Liver Damage

Those who have been abusing alcohol for many years will no doubt have some form of liver damage. The good news is that sobriety can often reverse any damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, in some cases, the damage continues to get worse even after the person has stopped drinking; this is due to cirrhosis or viral hepatitis.

If you notice symptoms such as dark urine, yellowing of the skin, flushed palms, fatigue, or twitching limbs, you could be suffering from liver disease. It is important to seek medical advice if you notice these symptoms. A doctor can check for liver disease and Hepatitis C.

How Alcohol Affects the Liver

Although alcohol and drugs affect many different organs and cells in the body, it is the liver that processes toxic substances. Excessive consumption can overwork the liver and cause damage. The most common liver problem that alcoholics develop is a condition known as fatty liver, or steatosis. Alcoholics may not notice any symptoms, but their liver could be tender and enlarged. The good news is that this condition is almost always reversible with abstinence. The more severe the alcohol addiction, the longer it may take for the liver to get back to normal function. Adopting a healthy diet and increasing exercise can speed up the recovery process.

Another condition affecting the liver is hepatitis, which is a more serious condition than fatty liver. Symptoms include yellowing skin, vomiting, fever, nausea, and body aches. Acute hepatitis is a temporary condition but chronic hepatitis is of more concern. Hepatitis C is the most serious form of the disease and can be passed from person to person through infected needles and blood transfusions. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver failure.

Cirrhosis of the liver is yet another problem caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Cirrhosis can lead to a number of symptoms including jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, and fever. Cirrhosis can result in liver cancer and death. In fact, around ten per cent of those who develop cirrhosis of the liver will die without any symptoms.

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