Can You Drink Alcohol When You Have Hepatitis B Or C
Alcohol is believed to weaken the bodys ability to fight off the hepatitis C virus. The relationship between hepatitis B and alcohol9 is less well understood, but appears to be similar. With hepatitis B, moderate drinking may be less risky. In both cases, however, its best to avoid heavy drinking at all costs.
If you have hepatitis B or C, check with your doctor about what amount of alcohol, if any, is safe. But your safest bet is to avoid drinking altogether.
When Does Alcoholic Hepatitis Happen
There is no clear cut criteria as to how much someone has to drink to get alcoholic hepatitis, While its general cause is known to be long-term, heavy drinking, not all heavy drinkers will experience this acute type of liver damage. Both binge drinkers and consistently heavy drinkers can find themselves at risk, but those who drink on a daily basis have a higher likelihood. Studies have shown that 60 g of alcohol intake for men, and 20 g greatly contributes to the risk factors.
The exact timeline of when alcoholic hepatitis occurs is unknown, however, the likelihood can be affected by a number of factors such as gender, race, BMI, and quantity and duration of alcohol consumption.
- Women have lower alcohol tolerance than men have twice the risk of developing drinking-related liver issues
- Minorities are more likely to develop severe alcoholic hepatitis due to genetic disposition
- Being overweight can contribute to a fatty liver, a frequent precursor to alcoholic hepatitis
What Is Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter even in microscopic amounts from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person.
For more information about hepatitis A illness and treatment, please visit CDCs Hepatitis A website.
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Can You Get Hepatitis B Or C From Drinking Alcohol
Although all forms of hepatitis7 involve inflammation of the liver, hepatitis B and C are specifically caused by viruses, and not by drinking alcohol. The main risk factors for developing either hepatitis B or C involve exposure to blood, semen, or other infected body fluids. Alcoholic hepatitis has many of the same long-term consequences, but it is not the same illness, and it is not contagious.
How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed
To diagnose hepatitis, your health care provider:
- Will ask about your symptoms and medical history
- Will do a physical exam
- Will likely do blood tests, including tests for viral hepatitis
- Might do imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI
- May need to do a liver biopsy to get a clear diagnosis and check for liver damage
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Are Men Or Women More Likely To Get Alcoholic Hepatitis
Women appear to be more likely to suffer liver damage from alcohol.
Even when a man and woman have the same weight and drink the same amount, the woman generally has a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood because she has relatively more body fat and less water than the man, and her body handles alcohol differently.
What Is Alcoholic Liver Disease
Alcoholic liver disease is common, but can be prevented. There are 3 types. Many heavy drinkers progress through these 3 types over time:
- Fatty liver. Fatty liver is the build-up of fat inside the liver cells. It leads to an enlarged liver. Its the most common alcohol-induced liver problem.
- Alcoholic hepatitis. Alcoholic hepatitis is an acute inflammation of the liver. There is death of liver cells, often followed by permanent scarring.
- Alcoholic cirrhosis. Alcoholic cirrhosis is the destruction of normal liver tissue. It leaves scar tissue in place of the working liver tissue.
The liver is a large organ that sits up under the ribs on the right side of the belly . The liver:
- Helps filter waste from the body
- Makes bile to help digest food
- Stores sugar that the body uses for energy
- Makes proteins that work in many places in the body, for example, proteins that cause blood to clot
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Types Of Alcohol Related Liver Disease
- Alcholol Related Steatohepatitis : Fat accumulates inside liver cells, making it hard for the liver to work properly. This early stage of liver disease occurs fairly soon after repeated heavy drinking. Usually it is symptom free but upper abdominal pain on the right side from an enlarged liver may occur. Steatosis goes away with alcohol abstinence.
- Alcoholic Hepatitis: This condition is marked by inflammation, swelling and the killing of liver cells. This scars the liver, which is known as fibrosis. Symptoms may occur over time or suddenly after binge drinking. They include fever, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and tenderness. Up to 35 percent of heavy drinkers develop alcohol hepatitis, which can be mild or severe. If it is a mild case, stopping the drinking can reverse it.
- Alcohol Related Cirrhosis: The most serious form of ALD, it occurs when the entire liver is scarred, causing the liver to shrink and harden. This can lead to liver failure. Usually the damage cannot be reversed. Between 10 to 20 percent of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis typically after 10 or more years of drinking.
Alcohol hepatitis and alcohol cirrhosis previously were called alcohol steatohepatitis , a term that still arises among some circles.
Here Are Some More Symptoms To Be Aware Of:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Weight loss
Malnourishment is par for the course in those suffering from this disease. Thats because drinking lots of alcohol can suppress the appetite. Heavy drinkers get most of their caloric intake from alcohol therefore, they feel no need for food. In severe cases, the victim can accumulate fluid in the abdomen, become confused, and act differently all due to a buildup of toxins that the liver is normally in charge of breaking down. Because the liver isnt working properly, those toxins build up to dangerous levels. As a result, kidney and liver failure are very real possibilities.
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Treatment Options For Alcoholic Hepatitis
Alcohol use both causes and worsens alcoholic hepatitis, so a diagnosis of alcoholic hepatitis means you may want to consider stopping drinking gradually. Quitting drinking can help reduce symptoms and prevent further damage to your liver.
In the early stages of the condition, avoiding alcohol may even help reverse liver damage. Once more significant damage has occurred, the changes to your liver may become permanent.
Even if the damage is too severe to reverse, quitting drinking could prevent further harm to your liver.
- According to
Alcoholic hepatitis can lead to severe and lasting liver damage, which can, in turn, cause serious health complications. In some cases, these complications can be life threatening.
What Is The Prognosis For Patients Who Have Alcoholic Hepatitis
If the patient who has alcoholic hepatitis gives up drinking alcohol completely, the liver may improve, and the long-term prognosis is good if there is no underlying scar in the liver. However, if the patient continues to drink excessively, the liver will continue to get worse and possibly develop cirrhosis, a serious condition that may ultimately lead to liver failure over time. Other health problems may also develop, including infections and malnutrition.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/21/2018.
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Who Is At Risk For Hepatitis
Individuals who share needles and practice unprotected sex increase their likelihood of contracting hepatitis. The main risk factor for alcoholic hepatitis is protracted alcohol abuse. Gender, weight, ethnicity, and certain genetic factors may affect the extent to which acute or chronic hepatitis develops in some people. Furthermore, some forms of hepatitis are transmitted genetically, through contaminated food, sharing silverware, or injury. So, it is difficult to completely reduce the risk of all forms of hepatitis. However, living a purposeful life enhanced by exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the risk for illness.
What Are The Complications Of Alcoholic Liver Disease
About 30% of people with alcoholic liver disease have hepatitis C virus. Others have hepatitis B virus. Your provider will test you for both and treat you if needed.
People with alcoholic liver disease are also at greater risk for liver cancer.
About 50% have gallstones.
Those with cirrhosis often develop kidney problems, intestinal bleeding, fluid in the belly, confusion, liver cancer, and severe infections.
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How Can Alcoholic Hepatitis Be Diagnosed
Alcoholic hepatitis is not easy to diagnose. While the disease usually comes on after a period of fairly heavy drinking, it may also be seen in people who are moderate drinkers.
Blood tests may help in diagnosis.
Proof is best established by liver biopsy. This involves taking a tiny specimen of liver tissue with a needle and examining it under a microscope. The biopsy is usually done under local anesthesia.
Is Alcoholic Hepatitis Dangerous
Yes. It may be fatal, especially if you have had previous liver damage.
Those who have had nutritional deficiencies because of heavy drinking may have other ailments. These medical complications may affect almost every system in the body.
It’s important to recognize and treat alcoholic hepatitis early, to help prevent these life-threatening consequences.
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Hepatitis A Vaccine And International Travel
Who should get the hepatitis A vaccine before traveling internationally?
All unvaccinated people, along with those who have never had hepatitis A, should be vaccinated before traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common. Travelers to urban areas, resorts, and luxury hotels in countries where hepatitis A is common are still at risk. International travelers have been infected, even though they regularly washed their hands and were careful about what they drank and ate. Those who are too young or cant get vaccinated because of a previous, life-threatening reaction to the hepatitis A vaccine or vaccine component should receive immune globulin. Travelers to other countries where hepatitis A does not commonly occur are not recommended to receive hepatitis A vaccine before travel.
How soon before travel should I get the hepatitis A vaccine?
You should get the first dose of hepatitis A vaccine as soon as you plan international travel to a country where hepatitis A is common. The vaccine will provide some protection even if you get vaccinated closer to departure. For older adults , people who are immunocompromised, and people with chronic liver disease or other chronic medical conditions the health-care provider may consider, based on several factors, giving an injection of immune globulin at the same time in different limbs.
What should I do if I am traveling internationally but cannot receive hepatitis A vaccine?
Increased Risk Of Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form of liver cancer in the U.S., and one of the more common complications of chronic hepatitis C infection. Even more so than liver cirrhosis, the association between alcoholism and HCC is strong, with 80% of HCC cases being identified as heavy alcohol users.
The risk appears to increase with the amount a person drinks. One Italian study showed that the likelihood of HCC doubled when a person drank between 3.4 and 6.7 drinks per day. Similarly, studies have shown that heavy drinking can accelerate the development of HCC by as much as five years, resulting in not only larger tumors but far shorter survival times.
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How Can You Prevent Alcoholic Hepatitis
The best way to prevent alcoholic hepatitis is to avoid alcohol or drink only in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined as less than two drinks per day for men and less than one drink per day for women.
You can also reduce your risk by taking steps to protect yourself from hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The bloodborne viruses that cause these conditions can be transmitted in several ways, including shared needles or razors and through body fluids during sex. Currently, vaccines are available for hepatitis B, but not for hepatitis C.
Your healthcare team may also recommend certain lifestyle changes based on your specific symptoms and health needs.
Alcoholic Hepatitis: What Is It And How Can It Be Prevented
Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to a number of serious illnesses. Among the more common is alcoholic hepatitis.
Although this illness mainly affects heavy drinkers, there are cases of moderate drinkers developing alcoholic hepatitis as well. If you drink regularly, its important to be aware of this condition, and how it can be treated or prevented.
What Is Alcoholic Hepatitis? | How Does It Develop? | Who Is At Risk? | Symptoms | Is It Reversible? | Recovery Time | Compared to Hepatitis B or C | Compared to Cirrhosis
How Does A Person Get Hepatitis
A person can get hepatitis A through the following sources:
- Food or water contaminated with the fecal matter of an infected person
- Sexual contact
A person can get hepatitis B in many ways, which include:
- Having sexual contact with an infected person
- Sharing needles
- Being in direct contact with an infected persons blood
- Transferred from mother to the fetus
- Getting an infected needle prick
- Being in contact with an infected persons body fluid
A person can get hepatitis C through:
- Sharing infected needles
- Being in direct contact with an infected persons blood
- Getting an infected needle prick
- Having sexual contact with an infected person
Hepatitis D can be spread through:
- Transferred from mother to the fetus
- Being in contact with the infected fluid or blood
- A person can get hepatitis D only if they are infected previously with hepatitis B.
Tips For Cutting Back On Drinking
The National Institutes of Health offers the following tips to help people cut back on drinking:
Watch it at home.
Keep only a small amount or no alcohol at home. Don’t keep temptations around.
When you drink, sip your drink slowly. Take a break of 1 hour between drinks. Drink water or non-alcoholic drinks after a drink with alcohol. Do not drink on an empty stomach! Eat food when you are drinking.
Take a break from alcohol.
Pick a day or two each week when you will not drink at all. Then, try to stop drinking for 1 week. Think about how you feel physically and emotionally on these days. When you succeed and feel better, you may find it easier to cut down for good.
Learn how to say NO.
You do not have to drink when other people drink. You do not have to take a drink that is given to you. Practice ways to say no politely. For example, you can tell people you feel better when you drink less. Stay away from people who give you a hard time about not drinking.
What would you like to do instead of drinking? Use the time and money spent on drinking to do something fun with your family or friends. Go out to eat, see a movie, or go for a walk.
Cutting down on your drinking may be difficult at times. Ask your family and friends for support to help you reach your goal. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble cutting down. Get the help you need to reach your goal.
Watch out for temptations.
Do not give up!
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Medications To Reduce Liver Inflammation
If you have severe alcoholic hepatitis, your doctor might recommend:
- Corticosteroids. These medications have shown some short-term benefit in increasing the survival of certain people with severe alcoholic hepatitis. However, corticosteroids have serious side effects and generally aren’t prescribed if you have failing kidneys, gastrointestinal bleeding or an infection.
- Pentoxifylline.Your doctor might recommend this anti-inflammatory medication if you can’t take corticosteroids. The benefit of pentoxifylline for alcoholic hepatitis isn’t clear. Study results are inconsistent.
Who Is At Risk For Developing Alcoholic Hepatitis
Alcoholic hepatitis is generally caused by excessive alcohol intake over an extended period of time.
How much is too much? The minimum threshold for high risk3 is approximately 40 grams of alcohol per day for a woman, and 50-60 grams per day for men. This is about 3-4 standard drinks per day. As for how long it takes, according to The World Journal of Hepatology people with alcoholic hepatitis have often drank at least 80 grams4 per day for over 5 years.
That said, things vary quite a bit from person to person. Periods of heavy alcohol use before developing alcoholic hepatitis can range from 3 months to 36 years. Even moderate drinkers occasionally develop alcoholic hepatitis, as do inconsistent binge drinkers.
Other factors include gender, genetic background, overall physical health, and even when you drink. If you tend to consume alcohol with food, you may have lower risk of alcoholic hepatitis. Obesity, on the other hand, can increase your risk. Women and African Americans seem to have a higher risk as well.
As far as age is concerned, alcoholic hepatitis is most common in people 40-60 years old. However, it has occurred in patients from 20-80 years of age.
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