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Started drinking infrequently. Liver scan, blood and urine test done. Suggest some tests to be done

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Iam now 26 and drink very infrequently. I may have half a pint of cider or 2 glasses of wine one week but then not drink for a good week or 2 so it is hard to say exactly how much I drink monthly but I would say maybe drink 4-5 times in a month maybe less but all within the UK drinking limits. However when I was a bit younger I drank quite heavily starting from being 15 and having alcohol poisoning and being admitted to hospital overnight to going to university and binge drinking however I was not admitted whilst I was at university but I did have to go to A&E about 3- 4 times because I had drunk too much and was very dehydrated. Those days are definately behind me, I feel I can't drink to that extent anymore, I definately have a smaller threshold on how much alcohol I can take before I have to stop and so nowadays I sometimes struggle to drink a pint (should that be worrying?) however I have always been slightly worried about the affect previous drinking may of had on my liver.

In April this year so 3 months ago, I went to the GP's because I was pretty depressed, I wasn't eating, drinking and I was vomiting quite a lot. The doctor did a routine blood test to rule out any stomach problems and the results came back with an abnormal ALT on my liver test (she never said how high it was) and abnormal kidney results (she never said what was exactly wrong on there) I do understand that maybe the kidney results could of been a bit out of kilter because I was not eating/drinking much at the time it was done so this could of affected the results but I was more worried about the liver test because of the previous drinking.

The doctor asked me to have a repeat liver/kidney test and due to a lot going on in my life I finally got round to having my blood taken last week. I phoned up the doctor today for the results and a normally busy doctors surgery (I normally have to wait 2 weeks for a routine appointment) but the doctor has asked to see on Wednesday! (which Im finding quite worrying in itself!)

My symptoms have all disappeared and Im feel absolutely fine but I do find myself feeling sick for no particular reason sometimes (every now and again) which passes off itself (without vomiting) and I do find myself fairly tired out at lot. Im am overweight but I'm desperately trying to loose the weight by doing exercise 2-3 times a week.

The big question I want to ask is if I have stopped drinking heavily 3 years ago could my liver be affected from 8 years of fairly heavy binge drinking?

I know I havent got the second blood test result yet but should I be worried about previous drinking and a one high ALT result?

What tests would they do next?

Posted Thu, 16 Aug 2012 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Charles S Narasi 13 hours later

Thanks for the query.

I am glad that you have been candid about your drinking habits.

You have been fairly a social (?) drinker for the past three years. Steady alcohol consumption for 8 years can certainly cause enough liver damage. If a person completely stops drinking, even if there are changes of cirrhosis (Scarring) of the liver, the liver has enough regenerative capacity that it would function normally. These have been shown by some good studies done in Australia. We always advice patients that it is never too late to quit drinking alcohol.

Minor elevation of enzymes can be due to your periodic drinking even though you are not drinking as much. Sometimes, certain medications such as pain killers belonging to the family of NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can affect the liver and also the kidneys. I would be careful about the use of these.

Abnormal kidney tests in your case could be related to fluid loss from vomiting and also not enough intakes.

Follow the liver tests frequently and I advise you to stop drinking. If the tests are abnormal, your doctor may advice an ultrasound scan.

Take some good high-potency B-Complex vitamin supplements along with Vitamin-E and Fish oil supplement.

Hope this answers your query.

Wish you well
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Follow-up: Started drinking infrequently. Liver scan, blood and urine test done. Suggest some tests to be done 4 days later
I had a routine blood test in April this year which came back with some abnormalities. The doctor didn't go into much detail just that some results within my liver and kidney's were abnormal and mentioned about my ALT in my liver being especially high. She asked me to go for a repeat blood test in which they were going to do a full Kidney and Liver Profile.

I got the results this morning and the GP mentioned that my GGT in my liver has gone from 140 ish to 240 and I have low sodium (she didn't say how low) she also didn't say what my other kidney or liver results were like.

She wants to do a liver scan, a urine test and a repeat blood test for:

a Liver profile (albumin, billirubin, alanine, aminotranferase, alkaline phosphatise)

a kidney profile (sodium, potassium, chloride, urea, creatinine)

a calcium profile (calcuim and corrected calcium)

they also want to test my glycerated heamoglobin, serum osmolarity, liver antibodies, caeroplasmin, Iron studies, AFP, Alpha Antitrypsin and test me for Hep B.

She asked me about my alcohol intake as she said high GGT and low sodium does go hand in hand with heavy drinking but I said although I did used to be a heavy drinker I really don't drink much so she thinks this could be non alcohol related as she said if my heavy drinking has stopped 2-3 years ago my liver function results would be back to normal now althought I will try and abstain from alcohol/write down my intake just to see if this may affect my results.

I feel fine in myself but I do find myself feeling sick for no particular reason sometimes (every now and again) which passes off itself (without vomiting) and I do find myself fairly tired out at lot. Im am overweight but I'm desperately trying to loose the weight by doing exercise 2-3 times a week. I know being overweight could affect your GGT but could it affect it this much?

I am a bit worried about all this and just need a heads up on what my doctor maybe testing for with all these blood tests and what could be going on with my liver (could this be serious?)

Any help would be much appreciated
Answered by Dr. Charles S Narasi 2 days later
Hello, XXXXXX,

I apologize for the delayed response.

I know that you are concerned about the persisting abnormal liver tests. Unfortunately, the prior drinking habits of yours have caused some damage already. You may have some scarring or Cirrhosis changes in your liver.

Low sodium indicates that your body is retaining some fluids.

You do need to stop drinking completely and your tests will come back to normal. Make sure that you take a good B-complex vitamin supplement, a Vit-E and a fish oil supplement.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more queries.

Wish you good health.

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