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Alcoholic Hep and Cirrhosis
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Alcoholic Hep and Cirrhosis

I have recently ceased alcohol consumption which was getting out of hand.  I last had blood tests done in late 1997 that showed all normal liver functions and all else.  I drank increasingly from early 1998 to mid 2001.  I have ceased completely.  Is it likely that I have developed cirrhosis during this 3.5 year period?  I was consuming an average of 6 - 8 oz/day, 5 days/week. I would quit for a week to a month here and there. I do occasionally feel a swelling and minor pain in my liver area, but I DO NOT have any of the other symptoms like jaundice, fatigue, etc.  Is cirrhosis typically developed during this amount of time or is it usually longer term?  I will be getting tested soon.
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Cirrhosis of the Liver due to alcohol is a condition that usually develops over a period of years. Just because one had a normal liver function test in 1997 doesn't mean that Cirrhosis wasn't already present. The only way to know for sure is to have a complete medical evaluation including a possible liver biopsy.
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Thanks Dr. Erik.  I appreciate your feedback.  It is virtually impossible that I had cirrhosis back in 1997 as I didnt start drinking until 1998.  The 1997 test was a routine Life Insurance medical with a blood profile that does liver tests amongst other things.  The thing I am trying to understand is is it likely that I could have developed cirrhosis in 3.5 years of fairly heavy drinking, or is it likely to be alcohol induced hepatitis.  I will be getting a full medical soon and will go for a liver biopsy if needed.  I am just trying to understand my situation.  Any further ocmment on time frame woudl be appreciated.

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It is unlikely that you have developed cirrhosis in 3.5 years. There may be some damage. There may be the beginning of cirrhosis. But if you have stopped the alcohol, then the liver will not get any worse.
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28293_tn?1213140550
I noticed that the title to your posting mentioned "hep".
You didn't say whether or not you actually have been diagnosed with hepatitus (hepatitis).....but just for an FYI....The hepatitis C virus ranks with alcohol as the major cause of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the United States. Infection with this virus causes inflammation of and low grade damage to the liver that over several decades can lead to cirrhosis.
(Alcohol will speed hepatitus (hepatitis) along).
You can read all about cirrhosis at

http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/digest/pubs/cirrhosi/cirrhosi.htm#causes

and

http://www.ivillagehealth.com/conditions/liver/articles/0,11299,166118_124945,00.html

PS---(No offense....but I think I read in another one of Erik's posts that he is not a doctor.....even though he chooses to use that title.)
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No, I have not been diagnosed with hepatitis (excuse spelling).  I have just been a heavy drinker and I think I feel it in my liver.  I have been completely dry for 2 months.  The discomfort is minor and diminishing.  It is my understanding that it is more likely alcoholic hepatitis, rather than cirrhosis.  I will find out when tested.  Thanks for the articles.  They seem to indicate that it is more typically a decade of heavy drinking that does it.  Of course, this is only the general rule.  Thanks for the input.
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