For years, alcoholic liver disease (or ALD) was considered “an old man’s disease” – but with more people drinking too much alcohol, liver disease is becoming an issue for younger people, too.
A new national study by experts from Michigan Medicine examined data from more than 100 million privately insured U.S. residents over a period of seven years. They discovered that cirrhosis mortality related to alcohol use increased the most in people ages 25 to 34.
According to Michigan Medicine liver specialist Jessica Mellinger, MD, the number of drinkers in that age bracket who died nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016, with an average increase around 10 percent every year.
“This is really dramatic and mirrors what we’re seeing in the clinic,” Dr. Mellinger told reporters. “It signals that more alcohol abuse is occurring.”
More Facts About Alcoholic Liver Disease
So what exactly is ALD? Medical New Today defines ALD as a “result of over consuming alcohol that damages the liver, leading to a buildup of fats, inflammation, and scarring.” The diseases of the liver are fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
- Men are more likely to have ALD than women.
- Liver damage can affect the whole entire body.
- More than one-third of cases of cirrhosis cases, which is the final stage of ALD, are related to alcohol.
- In most cases, moderate drinking —two drinks a day for men — will not lead to ALD, but overindulging can.
- If you’re already suffering from liver disease — even if you don’t know it — even small amounts of alcohol can exacerbate liver damage.
- Early symptoms of ALD include chronic fatigue, poor appetite, itchy skin and abdominal pain and swelling.
- Jaundice and tremors are symptoms of later-stage alcoholic liver disease.
- Abstaining from alcohol is a person’s only chance of recovery.
- Treatment options include medication, lifestyle changes and surgery.
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