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Drinker for a long time. Damaged the liver by now?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
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I have been a heavy drinker for 5 of the last 7 years. Could I have seriously damaged my liver in that time?
Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Drug Abuse
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 2 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
Heavy drinking for 5 years can damage your liver but stopping the alcohol consumption can revert most of the detrimental changes that have taken place.
You need to get your liver function tests done to assess the extent of damage that has happened over these years. Most of the time these changes revert back to normal after quitting alcohol intake, taking regular proper vitamin supplements, maintaining a healthy weight and having a healthy diet with plenty of fluids.
Please do not worry and work towards leading a healthy fruitful life.
I hope this answers your query.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Drinker for a long time. Damaged the liver by now? 45 minutes later
That makes me feel a little better. I have been retaining some fluid in my legs and have concerns. When it first started, I went to the ER, scared of congestive heart failure, or renal problems. They did drew blood (CBC I guess), and did a chest x XXXXXXX Doc said nothing detected, gave lasix, and it was fine for a while.

My history is: prior to 2005 I was a social drinker. Not daily, and often times many days or weeks in between. I had gastric bypass in 2003, and didnt drink at all for about a year, just because, no conscience effort to quit.

I started drinking heavily in 2005. A bottle of wine a night, progressed to 2, then 3, and then finally 4 per night for maybe a year. I quit in 2009. I stayed 100% sober for about a year and a half. Never had any physical problems due to drinking or in quitting. Started back in XXXXXXX of 2011, was back up to 4 a night by last November. I have been weening off for about a week now, am back down to 2, and hope to be quit soon. I was scared to quit cold XXXXXXX for fear of DTs.

I got some type of bad cold, or something going around in Early Feb. It was one of the roughest ever. Everybody seems to have something similar that hits hard with lingering/nagging symptoms that hang on for weeks. I work in a professional environment, and these are normally healthy people. I have had fluid in my ears for several weeks since. I took a round of antibiotics, and cough meds, and the major symptoms subsided, but the fluid remains. I was originally told it would eventually go away on it's own.

Other than go see the doctor, any further words or advice? Does that history change anything?

Thanks in advance.
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 3 hours later
Thanks for writing back.
It is good that now you are trying to reduce your alcohol intake.
None of your symptoms are related to liver damage.
The persistent fluid in the ears most commonly dries up on its own or may need to be drained after a short surgical procedure in case it is persistent and troublesome.
You can start taking a multivitamin supplement for an early recovery.
Taking Vitamin C supplements will enhance your immunity to fight off minor problems like cold.
Hope my answer is helpful. Do accept my answer in case there are no more follow up queries.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Drinker for a long time. Damaged the liver by now? 7 hours later
This is my last one, so here goes.

I had assumed that the blood work I had done when I went to the ER about 8 weeks ago would have given a clue if I had any Liver damage. Is that true?

What could be the cause of the occasional swelling in my ankles?

Is your opinion based on what I've told you about symptoms, or that I have not been drinking heavily long enough to do serious damage?

Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 47 minutes later
When you went to ER, you had swollen ankles at that time. It is not necessary that they would have done liver enzymes evaluation too.
Occasional swelling in the ankles can be related to a cardiac cause, renal cause or arthritis. The cause needs to be investigated thoroughly.
My opinion is based on your symptoms as well as the duration for which you have been drinking.
The symptoms of liver damage include pain in right upper abdomen, jaundice, hepatic abscess, gynecomastia, appearance of petechial hemorrhages, etc.
Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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