Liver disease

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Hi. I’m a 41 yr old chap from the U.K. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not dependent on the stuff. I just like a drink like most other people. I’ve just abused it over the past 5 years. Ive been drinking since I was 18 but I wouldn’t say excessively. Just the past 5 years. 

I’ve just been told yesterday that what looks to be liver disease caused by alcohol. I’m shocked to say the least. I’ve to have more blood tests next week and an ultrasound as the stage of my condition is not known. The thing is, I don’t have any illness or symptoms to say I’ve liver disease. I first took myself to the doctor complaining of abdominal discomfort and high bilirubin in my urine test stick. 

I’ve NO swelling, jaundice, sickness or any of the other late stage symptoms just diarrhoea (but not for the past 24hrs)

I’ve not had a drink in the past 7 days and I’ve been told by my doctor to stop drinking permanently (for her to say that surely means it’s cirrhosis)

I’m just wondering if any of you guys have any reassurance if there is any to be had. I’ve got intense anxiety which is really crippling me. Thanks in advance. Chris.

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  • Posted

    The only way to know if you have cirrhosis, is the abdominal ultrasound, which is the same sort of scan that they give to pregnant women. Most symptoms come at the later stage of cirrhosis, just because you feel fine, doesn't mean that you don't have it.

    Now, if you're sitting there thinking, if I've got cirrhosis, I'm going to die, you're not, or at least not imminently. If you stop drinking, most symptoms disappear quickly. Again, if you stop drinking, then you'll most likely live a normal life. The trouble is, most people who get addicted to alcohol don't stop and doctors know this, which is why they have a certain frame of mind.

    Your brain will have been changed over time from your daily drinking and you may find it hard to stop drinking, alcohol is everywhere, hard to ignore and drinking is actually a pleasant pass time. See if you can get your GP to prescribe you Campral, which helps a lot of people to stop thinking about alcohol.

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    • Posted

      Hi. Like I said I’m not alcohol dependent so giving up is something that I’ve already done. 

      I’m sat here thinking that is today the day I fall ill? Is tomorrow or the next day? This is a living nightmare for me at the minute. 

      I’m surprised that I could have actually irreversible liver disease and not know it. Why on earth isn’t there any symptoms?

      My doc said my levels were high but surely that’s a guide they use to say it’s not critical? Surely if the levels they see are so high, at a critical level, they’d have acted there and then to get me in and treated? I’m just trying to grab any sort of comfort from a truly worrying situation.

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  • Posted

    Hey Chris,

    Best thing is take her advice and stop. Bilirubin in the per is usually the precursor to jaundice and clinical symptoms. I'm an alcoholic (9 years recovery now), was told I had cirrhosis but I felt A OK. Was at a stage where I could get on fine as long as I never touched any more of the sauce. Unfortunately, I had an accident, got sepsis and that helped tip the liver over the edge & needed a transplant.

    Before the accident, I had 3 years of living with cirrhosis and not drinking and felt OK.

    Get the rest of the bloods done and a scan and see where you're at, but best give up even the cheeky one on the way home. Good luck.

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    • Posted

      Hi Matt. Thanks for that. I didn’t think I’d been drinking long enough to get any of this. I’m an absolute nervous wreck now. 

      I don’t want to die and like I said, I’m not an alcoholic. I’ve just abused it. I just hope this can be reversed.

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    • Posted

      It's hard not to panic, buddy, but try not to until you know the extent of any problem. I'd guess if you've only really abused for 5 years there's gonna be some damage but not killer status. The liver is very good at repairing itself, but when its repairing over and over and over it doesnt always regenerate as tissue etc, but as scars. This scarring is the cirrhosis.

      If you're worried them not getting you in and treating you asap, I would imagine that you're not going to collapse tomorrow!! How long before the original test did you have the last drink? They sometimes like to see you again after a bit so the LFT (liver function tests) settles so it isn't spiked by drink still in the system.

      It's often the case that there aren't really any effects until the severe damage is done.....that's the jaundice and pain in the right side under your ribs. Check the whites of your eyes nearest the nose.....usually the first bit to go yellow.

      I think I was terrible for 12-14 years, 4pack on train to work, 3 Stellas at lunch, home and more pints / Southern Comfort. Back up and 4 going to work etc.etc. A functioning alcoholic. When I quit and sought help, got checked out and as I said, it would be ok as long as I never touched a drop (except I had that blooming accident!!).

      I know you're not an alkie, but hope you can avoid the "just 1 in the pub garden on a sunny Saturday won't harm". Even for irregular drinkers it's a hard one, but if there's some damage buddy, you gotta cut the lot.

      Good luck with the full tests. If your worried after they come back, we're here to help with that too!

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    • Posted

      Hi mate. Really appreciate your reassuring words. 

      I’ve been drinking since I was 18. I’m 41 now. I’ve had as much as the next man up to about 5 yrs ago. I split up from a long term relationship, ended up on my own and did a bottle of wine a day. I wasn’t a mental mess, just happy and enjoying being on my own. I exercised regularly and thought nothing of it really. I was an ok weight too. Since 2015 I fell deeply depressed. I didn’t drink too much as I was ill. I’d say 2016 was my worst year. Drinking nearly 7 days a week and put on 2 stone. I ended up with pneumonia on New Year’s Eve 2016. It was quite a good dose too! I think I remember my first drink was March 2017. I haven’t drank to the excess of 2016 but enough. I have had a fair few consistent days off it to reboot myself. I had a fair bit last Friday and Saturday and have not had a drop since. I had my bloods done Thursday. 

      Like I’ve said, I don’t feel ill. I sweat more now though and I’ve diarrhoea but not in the last 24 hrs. I can use my work insurance to push this through on monday. I had a doc telephone appointment today at 12. The only bit of comfort I can take from that conversation was that sometimes the blood results can show an acute reading of recent drinking so may not be a true reflection of the livers condition. Nonetheless there is still an issue. If it means no alcohol for the rest of my life then I’ll take that. That’ll not kill me....whilst what I have been doing will. It’s p****d me off a little cus I’ve got over £150 worth of booze I’ve got to give away lol! I’m seeing a dietitian on Monday to get my diet in order so I can lose some weight.

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    • Posted

      Ha ha ha....got to give the booze away!! That was exactly the same for me. Had a case in the fridge and I’d walked out of work, called my Sis and said help me, then thought damn, only bought that last night, what a waste!!

      Work kicked mine off. Worked with 4 women who nattered all day and got me to do all their stuff, and the female boss was a tyrant. I never got depressed because I was drunk 24/7 (or sleeping). Still, never late for work and rarely made mistakes. Short and stocky, usually a 34 waist but at my worst I remember going to Sainsbury’s 1night to buy size 40 in an emergency.......so to stop the weight gain I switched to spirits...LOL.

      That’s good you spoke to the doc today....yeah the readings can spike if it’s close to the last sesh. I’m sure your not going to drop dead and you’ve had a good reality check so see how things go with next weeks scan and tests. I remember going to my doc after about 4 years of it and he said “your liver is only a little bit stressed” so I carried on. So you might be at the “a little bit stressed” stage, which would be fantastic.

      Please don’t let the feeling cripple you at the moment. It’s hard not to think about it, but you can’t do anything for a few days so just have a laugh!!

      Im sitting in hospital waiting for my kidney tests to come back but it won’t be until Monday. I had a new kidney recently and am scared it’s failing / damaged due to a recent illness.....but I can’t do s**t til Monday so....

      Chin up, buddy. Everything has a way of working itself out and believe me, it doesn’t involve dying. Be like me....bloody hard to kill!!

      Let us know how you get on.. You can PM on here as well so if your really struggling drop me a message.

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    • Posted

      Hi Matt. I can’t seem to find out where the PM thing is to keep in touch.

      You’re having kidney problems too?? Crikey mate you are in the wars. I hope they come through ok. You sound incredibly resilient and willing so I think you’ll be fine no matter what it throws at you!

      The trouble with me is that I’ve got health anxiety. Not sure if you know much about mental health but it’s not necessarily being a hypochondriac, it’s everything about health. The going to the docs etc. The news you’d get. It bothers you 10 fold. People are telling me I’ll be fine. My partner Jenie is the most amazing person you’d ever meet and she’s got my back but it’s not enough. I sit all day exhausting my mind thinking about the worst case and that petrifies me. Then at night it wakes me every few hours so I’m not sleeping. The lack of sleep then pot noodles your thoughts altogether and so on. I’m not in a good place at the moment. It’s worst case scenario all the way with no thought that the doc will just say “change your lifestyle and you’ll be fine” there’s none of that cus I don’t believe it. 

      Strangely, I predicted I’d get pneumonia after my uncle had it in 2010 and had sepsis. I got pneumonia.

      I predicted my liver when others were saying it was my gallbladder. It’s almost as if I’m predicting my own outcome and because I’m thinking worst case scenario all the time, I’m predicting it and that’s that. I’m going to have irreversible liver damage where I’m going to need a transplant or even die. I’m looking at my eyes every hour to see if I’m getting jaundice!!

      Jenie has banned me from doing urine tests because every time I’m doing them, the ketone, bilirubin and the uri something or other (the by product of bilirubin) is always high. The fact that I’ve not had a single drop of booze in 8 days now is worrying me that my liver isn’t repairing. I spent £120 yesterday at Holland & Barrett’s on this VEGA drink, vitamin B and active liver supplements. I’m not eating so that VEGA drink is at least getting me some nutrients in me. All the ones good for the liver.

      If things don’t improve then I really will panic. If they do then I can take that. I can accept I’ve dodged a bullet and if they say I’ve to not drink again I can take that. It’ll be tricky but I’ll do it. If I go out, I’ll just drink alcohol free drink. That’s if the medical professionals say it’s ok to drink that sort of stuff then I’m absolutely fine with doing that. 

      I just hope I make it to that day cus at the minute, all I can think about is years of hospital visits and medical attention. Mine damage is more through binge abuse than every day drinking. If ever drank during the week it would only be the odd time that I’d do more than I should because I drive for a living. 

      I think the single biggest problem I have is that there’s no medication for it. Not like an infection where you can take antibiotics and then you’re all good. You really are in the hands of the gods.

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    • Posted

      Hey Chris,

      If you look at the top of this message where it says matt66 > chris180477, just after my name should be a small envelope icon. Click that and it'll open a PM to the person.

      Yeah, hypochondria can be a problem, but on the bright side when its not as bad as you thought it's good news!! It's good you've got Jenie to help out.

      I'd try to get some food down as well though. If you're not hungry, start small with 1/2 a sandwich and you'll get hungrier over time.

      Yes, unfortunately there's no medication, would be great if some boffin came up with the magic dust that would sort it....

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  • Posted

    Cirrhosis seen on ultrasound is best proof of alcoholic disease. As for using and or abusing, there are people who can drink a bottle of vodka per day and live to be 80 with no liver problems. And those of us who can get liver problems at 35 while drinking only a few beers. My doc says it’s the daily or often factor more than the amount itself which wirks for some people.

    I’m not sure how the disease was diagnosed without an ultrasound, probably by elevated ALT/AST, which show a problem but the level of elevation in that very moment does not correspond to amount of liver damage - people with supposedly non liver viral disease like mono, can have them in the hundreds for a few weeks or months and of course don’t get liver damage.

    So don’t drink and those will fall. The ultrasound will show if there is any irriversable damage (like cirrhosis). If there is don’t panic. Don’t drink, follow a healthy diet and unless your liver is very damaged it will manage (people manage with 1/4 of the liver working correctly)

    If it comes to the worst you can get a transplant, which will be available to you as long as you don’t start drinking again. But wait for the ultrasound.

    Also don’t drink. If you can’t really stop seek help or at least try lowering the amount. And watch medications, paracetamol and some very common other drugs are liver killers.

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    • Posted

      Hi. Thanks for that. I’m not alcoholic. I’ve not touched a drop now for 11 days. I’ve just liked a drink. When I drink, I drink and I think I’ve overdone it along with a poor diet. I’m not a religious person but I’m preying that I’ve not irreparable damage. That would really cut me up. A dodged bullet I can handle but that I’m not sure I can. I have anxiety so take meds for it. Venlafaxine 75mg is what I take every day. I started 7 yrs ago. I’ve looked on the leaflet but it says nothing about liver problems and not taking them but I could quite easily have missed it. I’m not poorly poorly but I’ve a sore back at the bottom and I can feel it under my shoulder blade now and again. If I were a betting man I’d say it’s almost 100% certain it’s inflamed. The whole tract down that right hand side from the liver area to my waistline is sometimes uncomfortable. I must make it clear that I’m not in pain and haven’t been, it’s just the odd twinge or knot I can feel in that region. I’ve not really eaten in a week. Since Saturday I’ve been on a strict vegan diet and I’ve bought a smoothie maker. I spoke to a very inspirational guy on Sunday from liver4life and he suggested I looked at this guy on YouTube. Jason Vale. The juice man. He cures people’s diseases by juicing. There’s a documentary on YouTube he did. 8 people, 28 days with 22 diseases between them and he cured 80% of their diseases and reduced their medication by 80% by drinking juice. I’m going to try it and I’ve an appointment with a dietitian tonight so I’m more than prepared to get healthy. It’s what the news is I can cope with.

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  • Posted

    Hi Chris!

    U stopped drinking completely without problem, & that’s great.

    From information u gave, I think yours can be reversed. 

    Symptoms show up at later stage only. If your eyes look kinda yellow, your tummy getting big and u feel nauseous, feeling pain along with bathroom problems like don’t urinate enough, diarrhea, constipation and rashes that don’t go away then u can start to panic. Now panic when u don’t have those symptoms will weaken your immune systems and u don’t want that.

    This is what I would do if I was u. I would ask doctor for seeing nutritionist to see what to eat and what not to not to hurt the liver anymore.

    Eat healthy, diet (ask doc about milk thistle) and quit alcohol already like that then your liver won’t be under pressure of working hard to detox toxic out of your body then slowly it will regenerate. It might take years to recover but it will. U can do it Chris. Better start now with stop putting toxic in your body. Seems like it’s not too late for u at all since U don’t have those death at door symptoms.

    Good luck 

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    • Posted

      Hi. Thanks for your reply. I had an ultrasound and it confirmed a fatty liver so I’m pretty confident it can be sorted. I’m going to have blood tests once a month now to keep an eye on my readings. My  enzym reading at first was 400. 4 days later it was 107. Normal should be 45. I’d gone 3 weeks without a drink. I had a few beers last weekend as it was nice weather but I’m off it again all this week. Either Friday or Monday is when I’m going to take my bloods. My diet is pretty good. Vegan shakes full of plant extracts, fruit and veg with mainly chicken and fish. I’ve taken all the bad stuff out of my diet. Not 100% as I think that’s impossible but a good 90-95%. I’ve also lost 15kgs in weight which is good and I’m doing 10 minutes on the treadmill everyday. I can only do what I think is right. The proof will be in the bloods.
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