Updated on March 25, 2024
3 min read

What Are the Symptoms of Alcoholic Hepatitis?

Alcoholic hepatitis is a difficult condition that happens when your liver becomes inflamed and damaged after a period of heavy drinking. It's important to remember that your body is working hard to heal, and there are steps you can take to support your recovery. 

While inflammation and some scarring might be present, your liver has a remarkable ability to regenerate. Let's focus on treatments and lifestyle changes that can help your liver function at its best.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcoholic Hepatitis?

Knowing the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis is the first step toward getting the right support and treatment. Here are some of the symptoms you may experience from this condition.

  • Yellowing of your skin and eyes
  • Discomfort, especially in the upper right area of your abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting, including vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Loss of appetite that can lead to weight loss
  • Fever, which is often mild
  • Fatigue, weakness, or a general feeling of being unwell
  • Swelling in your abdomen (ascites) and legs (edema)
  • You may notice unusual darkening, lightening, or redness on your skin, especially on the palms of your hands)
  • Confusion or drowsiness when the liver can't remove toxins from the blood

It can be scary to confront these symptoms but remember, you're not alone in this. Seeking help is a sign of strength. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing alcoholic hepatitis and improving your health.

Causes and Risk Factors of Alcoholic Hepatitis

Alcoholic hepatitis is always caused by drinking too much alcohol for too long. The liver can only process so much, eventually becoming inflamed and damaged.

However, some factors can increase your risk of developing this condition:

  • Heavy Drinking: Most people with this condition have a history of heavy alcohol use.
  • Genetics: Your genes can make you more likely to develop this problem.
  • Sex: Women tend to be at higher risk than men.
  • Obesity: Being overweight increases the strain on your liver.
  • Race and Ethnicity: Certain groups face higher risks.
  • Other Health Issues: Existing liver conditions or infections like hepatitis make damage more likely.

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Diagnosis and Treatment for Alcoholic Hepatitis

Your doctor will diagnose alcoholic hepatitis based on your medical history, a physical exam, blood tests, and possibly imaging tests (like an ultrasound). Sometimes, a liver biopsy is needed. 

Here's what treatment for the condition usually involves:

Quitting Drinking

This is the absolute cornerstone of treatment. Abstaining from alcohol allows the liver to begin healing. It can even potentially reverse some of the damage caused by heavy drinking.

Nutritional Support

Many people with alcoholic hepatitis become malnourished due to factors like loss of appetite and nutrient deficiencies.

Nutritional support may involve receiving vitamins, supplements, and guidance on dietary changes. This helps replenish essential nutrients and support the liver's recovery process. 


Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may prescribe medications to target specific issues. These medications might help reduce inflammation in the liver, control symptoms like nausea or fatigue, or address complications that arise due to the damaged liver. 

Managing Complications

In some cases, alcoholic hepatitis can lead to complications like fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites), infections, or even liver failure. If these complications develop, additional treatment options will be needed to manage them and improve your overall health.

Alcoholic hepatitis is a serious liver condition caused by heavy drinking over time, but stopping alcohol consumption is the best way to begin healing. If you are struggling with alcohol, don't try to handle this alone. Seek professional help for support and treatment options.

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Updated on March 25, 2024

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