Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol
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Alcohol-related liver disease, or ARLD for short, is triggered by consuming large amounts of the popular yet unhealthy drink – alcohol. Although the first stages of liver disease don’t usually show many warning signs, one “early” symptom can strike when you go to the loo.
While you might not pay too much attention to the colour of your pee, a certain tint could suggest problems with your liver.
In fact, choluria is considered one of the earliest signs of liver damage that can show up before other symptoms, according to MedLine Plus.
This “early sign” is characterised by a dark brownish colour, resembling cola.
The reason why your pee turns dark is bilirubin – a yellow substance produced during the normal process of breaking down red blood cells.
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MedLine Plus states: “Your liver uses bilirubin to make bile, a fluid that helps you digest food. A healthy liver removes most of the bilirubin from your body.
“But if there is a problem with your liver, bilirubin can build up in your blood and get into your urine.”
According to Science Direct, choluria often crops ups with other warning signs, pointing to liver damage, including light-coloured stools and jaundice.
Jaundice details the white of your eyes and skin turning yellow, according to the NHS.
While bilirubin in your pee might be the earliest signs of liver problems, this symptom has also been linked to an advanced stage of alcohol-related liver disease known as cirrhosis.
During this stage, your liver becomes “significantly” scarred, with this damage being generally irreversible, according to the NHS.
Apart from dark urine, there are also other “early” symptoms that could break the news of alcohol-related liver disease.
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The British Liver Trust reports the early warning signs include:
- An aching feeling or discomfort on the upper right side of your tummy (where your liver is)
- Little or no appetite
- An overwhelming sense of tiredness (fatigue)
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Feeling generally unwell
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
It’s important to tell your GP if you regularly drink alcohol to excess, so they can check if your liver is damaged, the NHS explains.
The reason why you have to let your doctor know comes down to ARLD not often showing symptoms.
The health service warns that ARLD might not show any red flags until your liver has become severely damaged.
How does alcohol cause ARLD?
While your liver is able to filter toxins, some of the organ’s cells die each time you drink alcohol.
The good news is that the organ is able to develop new ones and regenerate itself.
However, having too much of the popular drink can lower this ability, leading to liver damage.
That’s why the most reliable way to prevent ARLD is quitting drinking. But sticking to the recommended limits of not regularly drinking more than 14 units a week can also help.
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