Alcohol-Induced Liver Diseases

Helping you reverse or manage conditions caused by drinking

When you consume too much alcohol, too often and for too long, you can damage your liver and greatly reduce its function to the point of needing a liver transplant. You can prevent alcohol-induced liver diseases by not drinking alcohol. In many cases, you can reverse the damage by quitting drinking.

Types of Alcohol-Induced Liver Diseases

There are three primary types of alcohol-induced liver diseases—all causing your liver to not function properly:

  • Fatty liver: Fat deposits in your liver cause liver enlargement, which can lead to the formation of scar tissue.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis: Inflammation from hepatitis may also cause scar tissue to form.
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis: Cirrhosis is the condition in which stiff scar tissue replaces healthy liver cells.

Symptoms of Alcohol-Induced Liver Diseases

Alcohol-induced liver diseases can cause the following symptoms, including:

  • Weakness
  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Pain under the right side of your ribs

Overview

Types of Alcohol-Induced Liver Diseases

There are three primary types of alcohol-induced liver diseases—all causing your liver to not function properly:

  • Fatty liver: Fat deposits in your liver cause liver enlargement, which can lead to the formation of scar tissue.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis: Inflammation from hepatitis may also cause scar tissue to form.
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis: Cirrhosis is the condition in which stiff scar tissue replaces healthy liver cells.

Symptoms of Alcohol-Induced Liver Diseases

Alcohol-induced liver diseases can cause the following symptoms, including:

  • Weakness
  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Pain under the right side of your ribs

Highly-skilled physicians at Indiana University Health will listen, get to know you, treat you with empathy and respect, and help you stop drinking alcohol so that you can either reverse damage to your liver or manage your condition if cirrhosis is present. Your treatment will begin with:

Diagnostic tests. Alcohol-induced liver diseases share common characteristics of other liver diseases, such as hepatitis. In order to properly treat your condition, your physician will conduct several tests to make sure you receive the most accurate diagnosis. These tests include:

Diagnosis

Highly-skilled physicians at Indiana University Health will listen, get to know you, treat you with empathy and respect, and help you stop drinking alcohol so that you can either reverse damage to your liver or manage your condition if cirrhosis is present. Your treatment will begin with:

Diagnostic tests. Alcohol-induced liver diseases share common characteristics of other liver diseases, such as hepatitis. In order to properly treat your condition, your physician will conduct several tests to make sure you receive the most accurate diagnosis. These tests include:

Once we have clarified your diagnosis, your treatment may include:

Alcohol abstinence

To prevent further damage to your liver, you must stop drinking alcohol. Your physician can refer you to a substance abuse specialist who can help you refrain from using alcohol.

Nutrition

You can prevent further liver damage by taking vitamins and eating a healthy diet. Proper nutrition, avoidance of certain toxins, vitamin supplementation and management of complications, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), can improve your condition.

Liver transplant

If damage to your liver is severe, a liver transplant may be necessary. If damage to your liver is so severe that it can no longer function, your physician may recommend a liver transplant. You must achieve at least six months of sobriety before your transplant. Our liver transplant program has one of the highest volumes in the nation with some of the shortest wait times.

Treatment

Once we have clarified your diagnosis, your treatment may include:

Alcohol abstinence

To prevent further damage to your liver, you must stop drinking alcohol. Your physician can refer you to a substance abuse specialist who can help you refrain from using alcohol.

Nutrition

You can prevent further liver damage by taking vitamins and eating a healthy diet. Proper nutrition, avoidance of certain toxins, vitamin supplementation and management of complications, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), can improve your condition.

Liver transplant

If damage to your liver is severe, a liver transplant may be necessary. If damage to your liver is so severe that it can no longer function, your physician may recommend a liver transplant. You must achieve at least six months of sobriety before your transplant. Our liver transplant program has one of the highest volumes in the nation with some of the shortest wait times.

We will give you the opportunity to take part in clinical trials that test the newest, most advanced medicines and treatments. Learn more about our unique partnerships:

IU School of Medicine: This partnership allows us to study new treatments for alcohol-induced liver diseases. Our research investigates how alcohol plays a role in fat metabolism and fatty deposits in the liver, and the genetic causes related to alcohol addiction.

National Institutes of Health: This partnership allows us to test new therapeutic treatments through multi-center clinical trials to manage acute liver disease caused by alcohol abuse.

Indiana Alcohol Research Center: This partnership gives us access to the most up-to-date knowledge about the impact of alcohol on the liver.

Research

We will give you the opportunity to take part in clinical trials that test the newest, most advanced medicines and treatments. Learn more about our unique partnerships:

IU School of Medicine: This partnership allows us to study new treatments for alcohol-induced liver diseases. Our research investigates how alcohol plays a role in fat metabolism and fatty deposits in the liver, and the genetic causes related to alcohol addiction.

National Institutes of Health: This partnership allows us to test new therapeutic treatments through multi-center clinical trials to manage acute liver disease caused by alcohol abuse.

Indiana Alcohol Research Center: This partnership gives us access to the most up-to-date knowledge about the impact of alcohol on the liver.

American Liver Foundation

This foundation provides information on alcohol-induced liver disease and focuses on education, support and research for the prevention and treatment of liver diseases.

Resources

American Liver Foundation

This foundation provides information on alcohol-induced liver disease and focuses on education, support and research for the prevention and treatment of liver diseases.

Patient Stories for Alcohol-Induced Liver Diseases