Strange physical symptoms after a year of heavy drinking & some very heavy binges: liver disease?

Posted , 8 users are following.

Hi folks,

I'm starting a new thread because the last one was getting out-of-date and bogged-down with my anxiety issues.

I know I suffer from anxiety (and depression and insomnia), which is partly what drove me to drink, am on treatment for same and will review things with my GP asap, but I want to concentrate on my physical health concerns.  Please ignore this thread if you ONLY want to talk about anxiety.

Briefly: I was a social drinker for 25 years, occasionally drinking more than I should have (but at things like celebrations and functions).

Two years ago, I began to develop mental health problems, but didn't start drinking more heavily (self-medicating) until about one year ago, when I also started to binge drink occasionally, including twice last October.  After a gap, I then restarted drinking heavily in March this year, and this became very heavy at times in the summer (80+ units per week), with occasional even heavier binges, the most recent being last Thursday / Friday (50+ units each day).

I finally ended-up in hospital last weekend with tachycardia, low blood pressure and probably alcohol poisoning.  While there, I first developed a painful red/purple rash on my chest.  I was put on anti-biotics for this, and it seems to be clearing-up.

However, then, I quickly developed various other strange and unpleasant physical symptoms:

- numerous bruises;

- numerous pimples and red/purple dots under the skin;

- some hair loss and extensive hair-thinning;

- a spider naevus;

- red palms;

- itchy skin- skin darkening affecting the backs of my hands and genitals;

- regular, profuse sweating;

- whites of eyes turned lemon;

- brain "fog".

Some of these symptoms have reduced or resolved (eg. red palms and itchy skin), but the others have persisted.

I am eating OK, but making an effort to do so.  In spite of this, I have lost about a stone in weight in the past 3 weeks.  I'm also lacking in energy.

Since June, I have had regular liver function tests and other blood tests, too.

These have shown elevated enzymes, more or less in line with the extent of my drinking.  In early August, after a serious binge, the AST was 96 and GGT was 121.  In mid-August, AST had reduced to 25 and GGT 72.  But they were higher again (though both under 100) on my admission to hospital last weekend, but had started to fall again after I was there for a few days.  I have been advised that, in all of the tests, the values for other important measures were consistently normal.  The junior doctor in hospital said the LFTs indicated no cirrohsis or hepatitis. 

I also had a physical exam (just manual) from a GP in mid-August, and she said my liver / abdomen felt soft and suple with no sign of inflammation, enlargement or hardness.

However, given the strange and unpleasant physical symptoms that quickly developed in hospital last weekend, I fear that my last serious binge a week ago finally tipped me over the edge and into serious liver disease.  Too many of the symptoms are those of cirrohsis for me to think anything else.  (I've checked on the NHS website.)

I am absolutely terrified that, despite good advice and warnings, I did not take heed and my body, especially the liver, has finally been permanently damaged by the alcohol.

My main question is: can I turn things around?  I have not had anything to drink since last Friday, and have no inclination to do so.  I am drinking a lot of water, fruit and vegtable juices, and eating healthily.  I will try to get some exercise, though I don't have much energy.

I'll see my regular GP next week, but could do with some advice and, if it's appropriate, some reassurance before then.

Thank you.


1 like, 33 replies

Report / Delete

33 Replies

  • Posted

    I think the medical profession - your GP is the best person to advise you. Everyones' symptoms are different - Write down all the things you have told us here, and tell him/her your concerns. Perhaps you are worrying too much, but you have at least realised the damage that can be done and can be irreversible, so whatever the GP says, DONT go back to your old habits, if you get a good result and a reprieve, dont take it as a green light. Let us know how you get on.
    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thanks, Olivo.

      I have no intention of going back to old habits, but I do want to get back to something like my old life - which was one of happiness, relative success and self-control.

      I don't like feeling like I'm going against liver function test results and medical opinion, but it's my body, and these sudden symptoms are just frighteningly like what the NHS website says are symptoms of serious liver disease, namely cirrhosis.

      I'll not miss anything with the GP - most of the symptoms are easily apparent to the eye.



      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Hi gav44887, sorry things are not going well for you, when u had a HIV scare 2 years ago how many tests did u do before u were cleared of HIV, if l was u l would just get another HIV test, just in case, cheers be strong we all love u on this site.
    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thank you for your good wishes, I've sent you a private message.

      To say things are not going well would be an understatement, I am terrified and just don't feel or look well, still with several of those awful symptoms.

      Like yourself, I used to think it took years of drinking a bottle or more of spirits a day to develop dirrohsis.  I don't think that way now, and I just think the two-day binge last Thursday/Friday tipped my body, and especially the liver, over the edge.


      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      That number is only for people in England.  I'm in Northern Ireland - I tried it before about something else.  Unfortunately, we don't have a '111' type facility in NI.

      If only these bruises, hair-thinning, etc, would disappear ....

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    It's Saturday and, after feeling awful on Friday night, I felt a good bit more optimistic earlier today during and after going for a 7 mile walk and completing it without any difficulty.

    Then, I had a bath and I felt bad again.  I was shocked by how much my body-hair density has reduced in the past week.

    I am also sure that my belly/abdomen look and feel bigger than they did 2-3 weeks ago, despite me having lost a stone in weight in that time.  Naturally, I am worried that it is fluid retention.

    I am despondent and terrified again.


    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Well, I had a long consultation with the GP this afternoon.

    I talked to him about what had happened 9-10 days ago and about the strange, unpleasant symptoms that quickly developed in hospital.

    We then went through the blood tests together.

    I can't remember the exact figures, but the AST and GGT were both about 100 on 29 August and were both in the 60s two days later.

    He didn't seem unduly concerned, but said he didn't want to minimise the damage I would be doing if the occasional binges continued. He said he had often seen GGTs over 1,000, and mine wasn't that high (for someone who had had so much to drink in a short space of time), but the elevated AST WAS something to keep an eye on and indicated that my liver was irritated by the occasional very heavy binges, and they had to stop because, if they did not, I WOULD probably have a lasting liver problem in 2-3 years.

    He felt that the occasional very heavy alcohol consumption was having an impact on my nervous system, and that is why I have been having lots of sweating and brain fog. He put the rest of the unpleasant symptoms down to acute, excessive alcohol ingestion.

    I asked him about a physical exam or scans, and he said they were not necessary.

    He felt it was a bit early to repeat the blood tests today, so I am to totally abstain from alcohol and go back to the surgery in two weeks' time to get all of the blood tests repeated.

    So, basically, he assured me that I do not have cirrhosis or hepatitis, but I have to get on top of the drinking.

    I guess I am reassured - if only I actually felt physically OK, rather than this vague feeling of being unwell ....

    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    I had an ultrasound earlier today.

    It's not good news.  Time for a new thread.


    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Richard.  I started a new thread.

      Briefly, the radiographer said the liver was bright on the ultrasound, is fatty in appearance and slightly enlarged.  All of the other upper abdominal organs, aorta and ducts were fine.

      She couldn't say whether or not there were any signs of cirrhosis, only that it is fatty.

      So, my instincts that there was something wrong were right (I would rather have been wrong.)  I hope I'm wrong about what I'm fearing.

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Yes, you will be surprised how all these symptoms will disappear when you eliminate drinking permanetly from your life...your done.....the only future if you drink again is continued health problems..worsening...progression of alcoholism.

    I KNOW because I just went thru the same things you are going thru for the last 4 weeks. 

    I ended in hosipital after a long 2 year binge...(4th time in hosp this year) with all those symptoms..and heart issues....I had 7 IVS over 4 days....and they said I was 1 - 2 days away from dying......

    In this past 4 weeks of NOT drinking...most of the symptoms you have mentioned I HAD...and have passed...MOST....I'm still confused a little....but MUCH better.

    Drinking is not an option for us.(you and me and people like us - alcoholics)..anymore.  Thankfully, I feel like I'm done.

    Your liver and symptoms will heal if you abstain.  Best of Luck


    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    ps...we are probably about the same age...I have the same LONG drinking history 25-30 years....I'm 51. 

    I had 8 years of sobriety from 2005 - 2013.....and then thought I could drink...then I couldn't stop for the past 2 years.

    If you can stay stopped....your blessed and hold on to it.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Missy2,

      I DO have a long drinking history - but of moderate, generally social drinking.  The heavy drinking has only been over the past 13 months, and even then with gaps (including a long one from November to February) and most of August (except the very beginning and very end).

      I think I would be very unlucky indeed to have advanced liver disease/permanent liver damage having only drunk heavily for several months, not many years, but I've also been taking some prescribed drugs over the past 1-2 years that are not good for the liver, and I fear that the mix of these meds and alcohol has been a dangerous combination.

      All medical opinion has told me that I do not have cirrhosis or permanent liver damage, but they're going on blood tests (which are now normal) and an ultrasound a few weeks ago that showed fatty liver - but that was an ultrasound that I was told by doctors that I did not need!

      I am still very, very worried.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      What this disease tells OK..I have no negative "organ" IM OK.

      The problem with alcoholism is it is may not have any symptoms now...but they will come with continued drinking. sad


      Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up