The liver performs many vital functions, from removing toxins from the body to controlling cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
There are three types of liver disease:
- alcohol-related - caused by years of drinking too much alcohol
- fatty liver disease - caused by a build-up of fat in the liver cells, usually in people who are overweight or obese
- inherited liver disease - a faulty version of the HFE gene causes a build-up of iron in the liver
Alcohol and liver function
Drinking excess alcohol can damage the liver, the organ responsible for processing and breaking down alcohol.
The liver can regenerate its cells, but long-term alcohol abuse causes serious damage:
- the patient begins by feeling sick, experiences weight loss, loss of appetite, there is a yellowing of the eyes, confusion, drowsiness and vomiting of blood
- alcohol causes lipids to build up in the liver - fatty liver disease
- alcohol damage leads to alcoholic hepatitis, which can lead to death
- cirrhosis of the liver can develop - the liver becomes scarred and loses its ability to function
- changes are now irreversible and the reduced ability to process alcohol can also lead to brain damage