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Alcoholic liver disease

Alcoholic liver disease: symptoms, stages and private treatment options

Close up of a stethoscope and a model of a liver in a consultation for alcoholic liver disease
Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a condition caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol over a prolonged period of time. This leads to a range of symptoms, which tend to happen over three distinct stages, beginning with fatty liver and potentially progressing to cirrhosis, which can lead to liver failure.

Symptoms of alcoholic liver disease can range from mild to severe and may include fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, and fluid build-up in the legs and abdomen. The condition is progressive, meaning that it will continue to worsen over time if left untreated. Therefore, early diagnosis and private alcoholic liver disease treatment are crucial for managing the condition and slowing its progression.

At Circle Health Group, our specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating alcoholic liver disease. Our team uses the latest technology and medical practices to provide personalised treatment plans for each patient.

Don't wait to seek help for your alcoholic liver disease. Book a consultation with one of our specialists today and take the first step towards a healthier liver and a healthier you.

Alcoholic liver disease can be divided into three stages:

  1. Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) - occurs when fat accumulates in the liver
  2. Alcoholic hepatitis - inflammation and damage to liver cells
  3. Cirrhosis - advanced stage where the liver is scarred and can no longer function properly

Alcoholic liver disease symptoms can vary depending on the stage of the condition. In the early stages, symptoms may be mild or even non-existent. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms can become more severe and include:

Fatigue and weakness

A feeling of tiredness and lack of energy is a common symptom of alcoholic liver disease. This can be caused by the liver's inability to remove toxins from the blood effectively.

Weight loss

As the liver becomes damaged, it may not be able to process nutrients effectively, leading to weight loss.

Nausea and vomiting

As the liver becomes damaged, it can cause a build-up of toxins in the bloodstream, leading to nausea and vomiting.

Abdominal pain

As the liver becomes enlarged and inflamed, it can cause pain and discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen.


As the liver becomes damaged, it may not be able to properly filter bilirubin from the blood, leading to the yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

Bruising and bleeding

As the liver becomes damaged, it may not be able to produce enough clotting factors, leading to easy bruising and bleeding.

Confusion and memory loss

As the liver becomes damaged, it may not be able to remove toxins from the blood effectively, leading to confusion and memory loss.

It's important to keep in mind that symptoms of alcoholic liver disease can also be caused by other conditions. ALD can be mistaken for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or non-alcoholic liver disease (NALD), as the symptoms are similar. That's why it's essential to seek professional medical help if you suspect you may have ALD.

At Circle Health Group, our specialists have the expertise and experience to provide you with the appropriate care and treatment. Book your consultation today to learn more about your options and take the first step towards recovery.

Alcoholic liver disease, also known as alcohol-related liver disease, is primarily caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol. The liver is responsible for breaking down the toxins found in alcohol, and when the liver is overworked it can become damaged. This damage can lead to a variety of serious health conditions, including alcoholic liver disease.

Another factor that can contribute to the development of alcoholic liver disease is genetics. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to the condition, which means that they are more likely to develop it even if they do not consume large amounts of alcohol. This is thought to be due to variations in the way the body metabolises alcohol, which can make some individuals more susceptible to the damaging effects of alcohol on the liver.

In addition to excessive alcohol consumption and genetics, other risk factors can contribute to the development of alcoholic liver disease. These include obesity and malnutrition. Also, certain medications can increase the risk of developing alcoholic liver disease when taken in combination with alcohol.

The ongoing management of ALD typically involves a multifaceted approach to treatment, combining lifestyle changes, medication and some form of psychological or psychiatric counselling. Our teams include specialists from multiple disciplines who work together to ensure you receive well-rounded support from every angle.

Lifestyle changes

One of the most important aspects of treating alcoholic liver disease is to stop drinking alcohol. Abstinence from alcohol is essential to slowing the progression of the disease and allowing the liver to heal. In addition, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can help improve overall health and support liver function.


There are various medications used in the treatment of ALD. Some help to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to the liver. Others may be prescribed to help protect the liver from further damage.

Supporting therapies

Physiotherapy can help improve muscle strength and function, which can be particularly beneficial for patients with advanced liver disease. Additionally, support groups and counselling can help patients cope with the emotional and psychological effects of the disease.

Surgical treatment for alcoholic liver disease

If you have irreversible liver failure, you may eventually need a liver transplant. There are some more minor types of surgery for alcoholic liver disease, but these won't be suitable in every instance.

When you come to Circle Health Group for an initial consultation, our team of specialist consultants will provide you with a thorough evaluation of your condition and help determine the best course of treatment for you.

We start by making a diagnosis, which in the case of alcoholic liver disease will typically involve a number of tests and scans, from blood tests to a CT scan or MRI scan . We also take a very detailed medical history, and we may perform a short physical examination.

Your initial consultation is critical in determining the stage of your alcoholic liver disease and allows us to provide you with accurate information about your condition, including the potential risks and benefits of different treatment options.

We answer your commonly asked questions about alcoholic liver disease.

What are the 3 stages of alcoholic liver disease?

The first stage of alcoholic liver disease is known as fatty liver, or alcoholic steatosis. This is the earliest stage of the condition and occurs when there is an accumulation of fat in the liver cells. It is usually asymptomatic and reversible if the individual stops drinking alcohol.

The second stage is known as alcoholic hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver that can cause symptoms such as jaundice, abdominal pain, and vomiting. It can be severe, and in some cases can lead to liver failure.

The third and final stage of alcoholic liver disease is known as cirrhosis, which is characterised by scarring and hardening of the liver. This stage can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, weight loss, and jaundice. It can also lead to serious complications such as liver cancer and is often fatal.

How does alcohol cause liver disease?

Alcohol is metabolised in the liver, where enzymes break it down into various chemicals. One of these chemicals is acetaldehyde, which is toxic to the liver cells.

The accumulation of acetaldehyde leads to inflammation and damage to the liver cells, which over time can lead to the development of liver disease. This damage is further exacerbated by the fact that alcohol also impairs the liver's ability to repair itself.

In addition, alcohol can also lead to the development of fatty liver disease, which is characterised by the accumulation of fat in the liver cells. This can further exacerbate the damage caused by alcohol and increase the risk of developing liver disease.

What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition characterised by the accumulation of fat in the liver cells in individuals who do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol. It is the most common liver disease in the world.

The exact causes of NAFLD are not fully understood, but it is believed to be linked to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Other risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a family history of NAFLD. NAFLD can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, abdominal pain, and jaundice.

Why do some alcoholics never get liver disease?

Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing liver disease. This means that their liver is not as efficient at breaking down alcohol and eliminating toxins, which can lead to less damage over time.

Other factors that may protect against the development of liver disease include maintaining a healthy diet, being physically active, and avoiding smoking and other risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure.

Additionally, drinking in moderation or abstaining from alcohol altogether can also greatly reduce the risk of developing liver disease. It's important to note that everyone's body is different and what may work for one person may not work for another. It's important to consult with a medical professional to determine the best course of action for your individual health.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to suit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant fits your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your specific requirements
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard and delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about treatment for alcoholic liver disease, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

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