Alcoholic hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by excessive alcohol use.

Overview and Symptoms

The most common symptom of alcoholic hepatitis is jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, weakness and loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal tenderness and fluid accumulation
  • Low-grade fever
  • Behavior changes because of buildup of toxins that are typically broken down and eliminated by the a fully-functioning liver

Treatment at BIDMC

A thorough physical examination, review of history of alcohol use, liver function tests and blood tests, an ultrasound, CT or MRI can provide a clear diagnosis. The physician can ask for all or some of these tests depending upon the patient’s conditions.

Treatment includes alcohol cessation which can help reverse liver damage. Medications, counselling and other recovery programs can help stop excessive drinking. Some patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis might require hospitalization for nutritional support and administration of medications such as corticosteroids. In select cases of severe alcoholic hepatitis that do not respond to medical therapy, a liver transplant might be necessary.

Learn More

Liver Center
The Liver Center at BIDMC
 brings together an exceptional team of multidisciplinary providers to offer personalized care and the most advanced treatment options to patients with a variety of liver conditions.

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Addiction Psychiatry
The Department of Psychiatry has world-class treatments to help manage addiction. A team of addiction psychiatrists, nurses and social workers offer personalized care to every patient.

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