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.