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Pancreas/liver pain from too much alcohol/Is damage reversable?
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Pancreas/liver pain from too much alcohol/Is damage reversable?

I have a 23-yr fairly heavy drinking history, but in the past 2 years, it has really escalated - usually two bottles of wine each evening (750 ml. bottles that is - trying to stop).  

I have had severe gastritis pain and Nexium and Pantoloc seem to help.  I know this is caused by the drinking, however, in the past 4 weeks or so, I am experiencing a dull throbbing pain on my right side, as if under my right middle ribs, but sometimes feels as if under my right obliques as well. I have been reading about pancreatitis, and was wondering that if I have in fact caused enough damage that my pancreas is "digesting itself" due to the digestive enzymes being active in the pancreas, will this repair itself if I stop drinking?  Or will the damage to liver and pancreas be permanent?  Can I reverse this?  OR, is it more likely that what I am feeling is liver pain?  

So, in a nutshell, when things are really bad, I have gastritis which feels to me as if I am starving to death, like my stomach is eating itself, and this right dull pain which has now started.  

I recently had a gastroscopy, and was told I do not have an ulcer, and that everything looks perfect in my stomach itself.  I had full blood tests and was told my "non-specific" liver function was "slightly elevated."  If I had major damage, would these liver tests not be worse?

Final question.  I want to try "Antabuse."  Is this effective do you think?

Thank you.  
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The liver tests won't necessarily be markedly elevated if there was more serious, irreversible liver damage (cirrhosis).

Regarding the pancreas, alcohol abuse is the most common cause of this disease in North America.  Tests for pancreatic function (amylase/lipase) as well as imaging studies (either plain film or abdominal CT scan) can be considered to evaluate the pancreas.

Results with antabuse (disulfiram) have been mixed. In one randomized, partially-blinded study of 126 patients, administration of 200 mg of disulfiram daily increased the number of abstinent days compared with subjects receiving vitamin C (100 versus 69) and reduced the mean weekly alcohol consumption. In a second controlled, blinded study of 605 men, treatment with 250 mg of disulfiram was again associated with a decrease in the number of drinking days compared with placebo. However, there were no differences among the groups in total abstinence, time to first drink, employment, or social stability. Compliance is the greatest predictor of outcome.

Discussion of whether this is an appropriate medication for you should be undertaken with your personal physician.

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.

Thanks,
Kevin, M.D.

Bibliography:
Gold et al.  Treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence.  UptoDate, 2004.
5 Comments
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I have moderate to severe Chronic Pancreatitis and Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction.  I did not get this by drinking but by a bad gall bladder operation and a condition that took 3 years to diagnos.  Had it been sooner, I may not be in this position.  Anyway, if you do indeed have pancreatitis, you need to stop all alcohol immeadiatly!   The pancreas is an organ that does not rejuvinate itself.  Once damaged, it will always been damaged.  Stopping drinking now can help prevent further damage.

I would ask your doctor for a Fecal Fat Test to test for possible mal-absorption and ask to have a lab sheet ready for you to go and have your amylase and lipase levels checked both now and when your feeling the pain at it's worst.  I have had CT Scans that showed my pancreas to be normal in every way, yet I have pictures of it from ERCP's that clearly show damage,severe strictures and calcifications to it. CT's and sonogram/ultrasounds are not always accurate. The best way for your doctor to tell for sure if your pancreas if having problems is to do an ERCP, but you really should explore other options (tests) first as thats an invasive surgery and it usually causes acute pancreatic attacks afterward.

There could be a number of things wrong other than pancreatitis.  Try to get to a specialist instead of a regular GI as he/she will be knowledgable about Gastro problems. Keep a log of what your eating/drinking and how you feel immeadiatly afterward and up to an hour afterward.  It may be a combonation of foods that are hitting you wrong.  It may be that you are taking in too much high fat foods all at once.  Thats a no-no for a person suffering with any form of pancreatitis. Also, keep a log of the pain level and what activity you were doing when the pain hit.

I am not a doctor so please make sure you see a specialist for your specific symptoms and do it soon.  It's better to rule out what it maybe or maynot be, than to let it go or let the regular doctors and GI's tell you that you are making this all up in your head when something is going terribly wrong and there is no reversing it.  AA is a wonderful place to get help and support to quit drinking.  You can do it!  It is easier than you think.

Good luck to you,
Sandy
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank-you Sandy for your input, very much appreciated.
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Avatar_n_tn
my mother has chronic pancreatitis and now a tumour in her pancres, likely as a result of years of heavy alchol abuse, it is terrible to see how much pain she is in and too know that it was as a result of her alcohol abuse. I hope you get yourself help, whether you have pancreatitis or not, you clearly recognize your drinking too much and are concerned, thats a good first step is recognizing you have a problem, now hopefully get yourself the support and help you need to beat this, I wish you strength, I work in healthcare and truly I'm inspired by the strengths people have.You will be in my prayers, best wishes and please do take care of yourself.
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I  have a dear lady friend, 59 years old, that after years of alcohol abuse was just told that she has enzymes in both her liver and pancreas

What does this mean?  Is her liver gone?  If she has cancer of the pancreas and or liver what can be done

She is going through withdrawals as we speak and cannot control her alcohol intake.

She loses urinary control when she is drunk which is most of the time.

She has lost just about everything, money, job etc.

When she drinks and is near a basically unconscious state she will steal to drink.

She has been in and out of most detox centers, hospitals and treatment programs that the San Francisco bay area has to offer.

She has done time in jail for her petty theft and her drunk in public

She consistently states she is through drinking but then starts her cycle all over again........sober>boose>black out>passes out>urinary control loss>.....this seems to be her pattern.

I have an ugly feeling that she will drink herself to death and may not make it another sixty days.

Advice?

shelton59
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Avatar_n_tn
hello
I had a severe acute pancreatitis attack 18 months ago and was told it was caused by alcohol. I was not a heavy drinker and i am 24 years old now. i have in the last 6 weeks stared to drink again even though i was told not to drink again. What are my options or chances. I have found it very hard to find info on this subject, please help, any advice would be greatly appreiciated
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