Signs Your Liver is Healing from Alcohol
Your liver is a vital organ that eliminates waste and toxic substances from your body. It produces bile and is also involved in digestion and other crucial functions. The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body. It has a remarkable self-healing ability, i.e., it can repair itself even after years of exposure to toxic substances like alcohol. The liver’s ability to self-heal depends on several factors, which we’ll examine in this guide.
Whenever you consume alcohol, most of it goes through the liver, while the rest gets out of your system through your breath, sweat, and urine. As the alcohol in the system is processed, it can cause damage to the liver cells and enzymes. An occasional drink may not do any harm, but regular alcohol use can cause severe liver complications. However, withdrawal from alcohol use allows the liver to heal itself and return to full functionality. This guide explains the signs your liver is healing and what you need to know about healing a damaged liver.
- The liver is the largest internal organ and is responsible for hundreds of functions. It is involved in digestion, immunity, breaking down toxins, energy production, and metabolism, among other functions.
- The liver is a unique organ that can regenerate itself if damaged.
- Abstaining from alcohol gives the liver the best chance of healing and returning to normal function.
- You’ll notice positive health changes like increased energy and mental alertness when your liver begins to heal from alcohol damage.
Possible Signs of Liver Damage
- Feeling sick
- Weight loss
- Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin)
- Swollen ankles and tummy
- Loss of appetite
- Stooling or vomiting blood
10 Signs Your Liver is Healing
You may need to reduce alcohol consumption or quit altogether if you notice any of the above above signs. If you desist from alcohol and give the liver time to heal and regenerate, there will be noticeable positive changes. Here are ten signs your liver is healing itself:
1. Increased energy
Diminished liver function negatively impacts your body’s metabolic processes, which can leave you constantly feeling tired and sluggish. As your liver heals, you’ll notice an uptick in your energy levels.
2. Balanced weight
The effect of liver damage on your metabolism can also cause adverse weight issues. It is not uncommon for individuals with liver damage to experience weight gain due to nutritional imbalance. A healing liver ensures the body gets the required nutrients and helps maintain a stable weight.
3. Improved appetite
The liver also plays a role in digestion; it continually produces bile which turns fat into energy the body utilizes. As you allow your liver to heal, it becomes easier to digest food and nutrients, and you’ll notice a marked improvement in your appetite.
4. Normalized eye and skin color
Alcohol liver damage causes jaundice – a condition marked by yellowing of the eyes and skin due to the liver’s inability to efficiently process red blood cells as they break down. Giving the liver room to heal by abstaining from alcohol will cause the eyes and skin to return to their normal color.
5. Balance glucose levels
Prolonged alcohol use disrupts blood glucose levels. Moderate consumption of alcohol causes a spike in blood sugar levels, but heavy use can bring it down. Quitting alcohol and giving your liver time to heal will see blood glucose return to the normal range.
6. Improved blood clotting
Alcohol in the system reduces the production of blood platelets – plate-shaped cell fragments that form clots to stop and prevent bleeding. A reduced number of platelets means you bruise more easily, and wounds take more time to heal. It also puts you at risk of severe internal injuries. Quitting alcohol allows your body to produce a sufficient number of platelets.
7. Improved liver functionImproved Liver Function
It’s the liver’s job to expel alcohol and toxic substances from the body. Alcohol consumption reduces liver function and increases the number of toxins in the body. Quitting alcohol strengthens the liver and reduces blood toxins.
8. Reduced pain
Long-term alcohol consumption can cause painful inflammation due to conditions like alcoholic hepatitis. Quitting alcohol allows the liver to regenerate and decreases the associated pain.
9. Reduced brain fog and increased mental alertness
The backup of toxins due to diminished liver function can cause frequent brain fog, confusion, and drowsiness. By quitting alcohol and allowing your liver to breathe, you can improve your ability to focus and sharpen your memory.
10. Improved immunity
The liver also detects and eliminates bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens from the body. Heavy alcohol use weakens the body’s immune function making you susceptible to common ailments. Giving your living room to breathe by quitting alcohol strengthens your immune system and resistance to infections.
What is the Liver’s Job?
The liver is a large organ responsible for up to 500 vital body functions. The major functions of the liver are:
- Production of bile which carries waste and breaks down fats in the small intestine.
- Conversion of hemoglobin into iron that the body needs. The liver also stores body iron.
- Clearing toxins, drugs, and other harmful substances from the blood.
- Clearing bilirubin from the cells, which can turn the eyes and skin yellow.
- Converting excess glucose to glycogen for future energy needs.
- Breaking down fat, making them easier to digest.
- Defending the body against infections.
Liver Damages Caused by Drinking
Alcohol-related liver damage (ARLD) refers to liver damage caused by continuous alcohol consumption. It occurs in stages with varying levels of severity and is common in individuals aged 40 to 50. Alcohol-related liver damage may not present symptoms until the liver is severely damaged, which is one of the most important reasons to quit alcohol. Your doctor may need to test your blood to determine whether alcohol has damaged your liver.
Liver damage from alcohol starts as alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can occur if you drink a large amount of alcohol, even for a few days. Alcoholic fatty liver disease has no symptoms and is easily reversible if you don’t drink alcohol again for a few months.
The next level of liver damage from prolonged alcohol use is known as alcoholic hepatitis (different from infectious hepatitis), which can occur if you binge on alcohol within a short period. You can reverse mild alcoholic hepatitis if you stop drinking altogether. Severe alcoholic hepatitis, however, can be dangerous and life-threatening.
The final stage of liver damage is called cirrhosis, which occurs when the liver becomes scarred due to heavy alcohol use. Cirrhosis is generally not reversible. But stopping alcohol use can slow the disease’s progression.
Stopping alcohol intake is the most important part of dealing with any stage of alcohol-related liver damage. You should see a doctor immediately if you think your alcohol use may have impacted your liver negatively.
Signs Your Liver is Damaged
Liver damage may show no signs at first. As the damage progresses, signs like jaundice and weakness may manifest. In the early stage, the liver becomes inflamed and may still not present any symptoms. If the inflammation is not managed, it will result in fibrosis or scarring. The scar tissue formed replaces healthy liver tissue without performing the same function, causing a decline in overall liver function.
Cirrhosis results when severe liver scarring leads to scar tissue buildup making the liver unable to perform its functions optimally. Symptoms that were previously not apparent may start to manifest at this stage. If cirrhosis progresses, it can lead to end-stage liver disease and chronic liver failure.
The symptoms of end-stage liver disease include:
- Disorientation or confusion
- Severe skin itching
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe jaundice
- The buildup of fluid in your abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Darkened urine
- Pale stooling
Liver disease is typically chronic, but the acute liver disease can quickly cause pain, jaundice, stomach upset, and weakness within days to weeks. Acute liver damage is usually life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
Can Liver Damage Be Irreversible?
Early-stage liver damage due to alcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis can be reversed by quitting alcohol. The damage to the liver resulting from prolonged alcohol use can be irreversible if it progresses to cirrhosis. Scarring from cirrhosis causes the liver to lose its ability to regenerate. However, you can prevent further damage by stopping alcohol immediately. Liver damage by cirrhosis may not be reversible except in a few cases, especially when detected early.
For an end-stage liver disease where damage has affected up to 75% of the liver, reversal may be impossible, and a liver transplant may be the only course of action.
Can Your Liver Heal Itself?
The liver is the only organ with the ability to self-heal. Liver cells regenerate if they are damaged due to injury or trauma. If other organs get damaged, scar tissue replaces the damaged tissues. However, the liver replaces damaged tissue with new cells. The liver can replace up to 50% of damaged cells within a few days without complications or symptoms.
Regeneration of liver cells can be retarded if the cause of damage continues to attack the liver, and it becomes more difficult for the liver to self-heal when scar tissue is formed. The most effective way of getting the liver to complete the regeneration process is to remove the damaging agent (alcohol in this case).
How Long Can It Take for Your Liver to Heal?
Your liver can begin to heal within days or weeks after you stop drinking. However, the speed of healing depends on how long you have been drinking and the extent of damage sustained. Health and lifestyle choices may also affect the rate of liver healing. People who occasionally consume large amounts of alcohol will avoid any damage if they stop drinking for two to four weeks. At least 30 days of alcohol abstinence is required to potentially completely restore the liver cells.
Heavy alcohol users may need to abstain from alcohol for 33 to 12 months to return their livers to normal functioning. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms might make abstinence challenging for users who have become dependent. Complete liver healing is only possible when there is early damage detection. It is usually not possible to restore normal liver function when cirrhosis has occurred.
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Quit Drinking
Drinking is a complex process, and many people wondering how to stop drinking cannot find the right time or devise the right approach. This is because everyone has a unique experience with alcohol, and the impact on their lives and health is similarly varied. Not everyone has a problem with alcohol, and a few drinks with friends or family is usually an enjoyable experience.
However, it may be time to quit using alcohol or at least cut back on consumption in these cases:
- You have been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, cirrhosis, heart conditions, hepatitis C, or a mental disorder
- You are using medications that can adversely interact with alcohol
- You are having more hangovers more often
- You are beginning to exceed your drinking limits
- You notice you’re becoming more dependent on alcohol
- You notice you drink more than others in social settings
- You drink more days per week than not
- You forget the things you did while drunk
- You frequently feel tired and low on energy
- You find yourself craving or thinking about alcohol more often
- There is an increase in your stress and anxiety levels
- You are spending more money than usual on alcoholic beverages
5 Tips on How to Help Your Liver Heal from Alcohol
If you have sustained liver damage from alcohol use, you can start the healing process by taking specific steps to recover from alcoholism. Here are five tips to help your liver heal from alcohol:
- Quit alcohol or only drink moderately
Taking out the damaging agent gives your liver the best chance of healing itself. If you cannot quit drinking, you should at least cut down on your consumption. However, limiting alcohol consumption should be a step toward permanent abstinence. If you have severe liver damage (alcoholic hepatitis or alcohol-related liver damage), your only option is to quit immediately.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices
A decision to live healthily is important for liver function restoration. Eat liver-friendly foods like lean protein, fiber, and fruits; drinks like coffee, green tea, ginger and lemon can also aid liver function. Limit your intake of sugars, salt, unhealthy fat, and processed foods. Also, maintain a healthy weight by staying physically active and eating appropriate portions.
- Protect yourself against infections
Viral infections like hepatitis can damage the liver further and retard its self-healing process. You can protect your liver against hepatitis by getting vaccinated, practicing safe sex, not sharing personal items, and avoiding using unsterilized sharp objects.
- Watch your medications
Medications like Tylenol, statins, phenytoin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac) can strain the liver if overused. Also, herbal supplements like kava and ephedra may not be best for a healing liver. Only take these types of medications or supplements if necessary. Do not exceed their dosing requirements or take them with alcohol.
- Schedule regular medical checks
Seeing your doctor regularly allows them to monitor and evaluate your progress. A doctor will examine the state of your liver and provide the best course of treatment. Regular checks also help to detect liver problems early and handle them before they become serious.
Alcohol can do immense damage to your liver and overall health. However, you may be able to reverse the damage and allow your liver to regenerate by practicing abstinence. As you let go of the bottle, your liver function will improve, and you’ll begin to see positive health changes. Stopping alcohol at once is vital as it offers you the best chance of full recovery. You should seek professional help immediately if you have alcohol liver damage or are having trouble quitting, get help today by calling 1-855-499-9446 or request a call here.
Frequently Asked Questions
The liver can regenerate and self-heal under the right circumstances. Factors that can help the liver heal include:
- Quitting or cutting down on alcohol consumption
- Eating a liver-friendly diet
- Making healthy lifestyle choices
- Avoiding medications that can harm the liver
- Go for regular medical examination
Making healthy dietary decisions can help the liver heal and restore its function. Some drinks that can heal the liver are:
- Ginger and lemon drinks
- Turmeric drinks
- Grapefruit drinks
- Green tea
- Oatmeal drinks
- Prickly pear juice
Yes. The liver has a unique ability to regenerate damaged cells after drinking and can grow back to normal size even after 50% of it has been destroyed. However, the liver isn’t invincible and may not be able to regenerate if damage progresses to advanced stages.
You know your fatty leaving when you quit alcohol and begin to experience some or all of the following:
- Increased energy
- Reduced pain
- Mental alertness
- Restored eye and skin color
- Improved appetite
- Improved blood work
- Balanced weight
Staying for six weeks without drinking alcohol allows your body to detoxify and your liver to return to normal function. If you are a heavy drinker, you may experience withdrawal symptoms before your liver starts healing. These symptoms could include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Appetite changes
- Mood swings
Sources used for the article