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History of Alcohol Abuse; Liver Concerns
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History of Alcohol Abuse; Liver Concerns

For a period of about two years, I went through a severe depression and I drank VERY heavily (approximately 15 drinks/day) nearly every day. I am a 37-year-old female weighing about 125 pounds. Prior to this period, I drank one drink each evening at dinner.

Thankfully, I no longer have such habits. Since I've gotten past this period in my life, I have been feeling great--eating well and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and sleeping well. My mind is clear and I am productive and happy again. It would appear that my body was very forgiving of the abuse I put it through!

Recently I decided to have three drinks on one occasion and then a few hours later had very uncomfortable symptoms that I associate with alcohol withdrawal (shaking, elevated pulse, severe agitation, nausea). What is troublesome to me is that only three drinks can cause this reaction, whereas in the past, it took far many more drinks to cause such disturbing withdrawal symptoms.

I am worried that my liver is damaged and that is why I cannot process alcohol well now. I've researched the symptoms of cirrhosis and liver damage and I do not have any of the usual symptoms. Could the fact that a smaller number of drinks is causing an intense reaction in me mean that there is a problem?

With all due respect, I am not looking for a lecture on the risk I took by having three drinks after a period of abstinence. However, I would like your opinion.

Incidentally, I take Lamictal, Trazodone, Singulair, Allegra, and Advair.

Thank you.
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Although possible, it is less likely that three drinks would send you into alcohol withdrawal.  If you are concerned about any possible damage to the liver, I suggest getting your liver function evaluated.  This would include full liver function tests (AST, ALT, GGT, Tbili, Alkaline phosphatase) as well as a liver ultrasound.  There is also the possibility of some of the medications (i.e. the trazodone) which also may affect the liver function.  

I wouldn't rely on the effects of a specific number of drinks.  The liver function testing would be a more accurate evaluate of liver function or dysfunction.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
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