One of the most common health issues diagnosed that arise from alcohol dependency or alcoholism is a disease of the liver known as “cirrhosis”. Cirrhosis of the liver can be life threatening and some of the symptoms include swelling of the stomach area and legs, loss of weight, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite.
If this condition is left untreated it can lead to severe medical conditions such as internal bleeding, jaundice, and in some cases an individual can go into a coma. Alcoholism is the leading cause of liver diseases and deaths attributed to liver disease.
When a physician examines an individual and suspects there may be alcohol abuse, he or she will inquire about the person’s medical history along with doing a physical exam looking specifically for health problems related to alcohol abuse.
If the signs of liver disease are present, the physician may then conclude that further testing is needed to determine whether or not the liver has been damaged by cirrhosis. There are several tests which may be done in order definitively determine whether cirrhosis is present which include blood tests which will show inflammation, and at what level the liver is functioning.
Image tests may also be ordered which could include an “MRI” or “Magnetic Resonance Imaging”, ultrasound of the abdominal area, and a “CT”or “Computed Tomography” scan. These tests can be used to show many things such as how the blood is circulating in the liver, tumors, size of the liver, and any ducts which may be blocked.
A liver biopsy may also be done which can confirm cirrhosis by examining the liver tissue. If cirrhosis is found blood testing may also be done to determine the exact cause including a “BAL” or “Blood Alcohol Level” test which is commonly done when a patient is suspected of having the disease of alcoholism.