Alcoholism and Liver Disease in Men
Both men and women can have alcoholism and alcohol-related liver disease, but men are more at risk. A survey in 2019 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that nine million men in the United States admitted to having some level of alcohol-use disorder.
Men are more likely to smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, behave in unhealthy ways, and skip regular health checkups. They are also prone to mental health issues, which can contribute to alcohol dependence.
Now, let’s talk about men’s health and how liver disease connects to alcoholism. We’ll also share important numbers about alcoholism and liver disease, as well as some common conditions caused by drinking too much alcohol. Lastly, we’ll discuss why it’s crucial to pay attention to men’s health, especially when it comes to mental health.
What is Alcohol-Related Liver Disease?
Liver disease caused by alcohol abuse is widespread. It’s called alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) and happens when someone drinks too much alcohol for a long time, causing damage to the liver.
When the liver is first harmed, drinking alcohol regularly makes it even worse. ARLD can lead to liver failure or chronic cirrhosis, which is the final stage of liver disease.
ARLD can be split into different stages, and if alcohol abuse continues, it can eventually lead to severe liver disease. The three stages of ARLD are fatty liver disease, fibrosis of the liver, and cirrhosis.
Alcoholism & Liver Disease Statistics
Let’s talk about how common alcoholism and liver disease is in the United States. Each year, over 95,000 people die because of alcohol-related problems, and out of that number, 68,000 are men. This makes alcohol-related deaths the third most common cause of preventable death in the US. Many of these deaths are caused by a condition called cirrhosis of the liver.
If we look at those who are chronic alcoholics, meaning they drink a lot over a long time, about 10-15% of them can expect to have some kind of alcohol-related liver disease if they don’t get treatment.
Now, let’s take a global view of alcoholism and liver disease. In 2012, there were about 3.3 million deaths related to alcohol around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Since then, the numbers have stayed pretty much the same.
It’s clear that alcoholism and liver disease is a big problem everywhere and it seriously affects men’s health.
Common Conditions Related to Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a term used to talk about alcohol abuse, addiction, and drinking too much over time. It’s a bit tricky to say exactly when alcohol use becomes abuse, but having more than 15 drinks a week for men is considered abusive.
Alcoholism and liver disease develop slowly and can be hard to overcome. The consequences vary depending on age, health, gender, how much someone drinks, and other factors. But many complications are common with alcoholism.
Here are some common conditions caused by alcoholism:
- Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis: This happens when the liver gets damaged from drinking too much alcohol over time. First, it gets fatty, then inflamed, and eventually, there’s scarring and cell death. Cirrhosis can’t be cured, but it can be prevented if someone stops drinking early in the liver disease.
- Alcoholic Encephalopathy: This is a condition that can happen in progressive liver disease due to alcoholism. The liver can’t filter toxins like ammonia from the blood, and this leads to a build-up of toxins affecting the brain. If not treated in a hospital, symptoms can get worse, leading to confusion and even coma.
- Ascites: This is when fluid builds up in the abdomen because of increased pressure in the blood vessels around the liver. The pressure causes clear fluid to leak from lymph vessels that run near the blood vessels in that area. Sometimes, the extra fluid can be too much, and a procedure called paracentesis is needed to drain the fluid with a catheter in the belly to relieve pressure and pain.
Alcohol consumption isn’t all good or all bad. It depends on the person’s health and how much alcohol they drink over time. Different people handle alcohol differently too.
As a general recommendation, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that men should limit themselves to 1-2 drinks maximum per night.
In any case, alcoholism and liver disease are a big concern, especially for men, and it should be carefully watched throughout a man’s life. Even though it’s preventable, alcoholism and liver disease still remains one of the leading causes of serious health problems.
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