Most people are aware that the liver takes the biggest beating when it comes to excessive alcohol consumption. Booze wreaks havoc on our livers. Long-term heroin and cocaine abuse also inflict major damage on the liver as well.
The main function of your liver is to filter and detoxify the blood that enters your digestive tract before it passes through the rest of your body. In other words, it cleanses the blood before allowing it to enter other areas of your body. It’s amazing if you think about it. We have a built-in system for cleaning and distributing what we put into our bodies to ensure we are reaping the maximum benefits while discarding anything that might harm us (toxins).
The problem occurs when we bombard the liver with too much alcohol which it is unable to process in a normal fashion. Eventually, chronic alcohol abuse begins to damage the liver cells which can result in scarring of the liver walls, which in turn can progress to fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and sometimes liver cancer.
The bottom line, alcohol is brutal to your liver. Heavy drinkers face a very high risk of developing numerous forms of liver disease especially after many years of hard and persistent boozing (raise your hand if this sounds like you). This is especially true for those of us who get sober in middle age. The longer we wait to get sober, the more susceptible we become to the ravages of alcohol abuse on our livers and other internal organs.
Some common symptoms of liver damage include:
- Yellowish skin and eyes (“jaundice”)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Swelling in legs and ankles
- Dark urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Itchy skin
- Discolored stool
- Tendency to bruise easily
- Chronic fatigue
- Fever and sweating
- Frequent disorientation
- Physical weakness
- Loss of appetite
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, you need to consider that you might have inflicted some damage to your liver. But all is not lost. If you’ve begun working on your sobriety (we hope you are) and are willing to take a few simple steps, there is a pathway back to better health and includes repairing the damage to your liver.
*Health Tip: Green tea is known to help cleanse and revitalize the liver. Try drinking a few cups of whole leaf green tea several times each day. Add a little honey for sweetener.
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