Alcohol-related liver disease(ARLD)

Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is a term used to describe a range of liver conditions that are caused by excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption. It’s one of the most common causes of liver disease worldwide and encompasses a spectrum of disorders that can range from mild fatty liver to more severe conditions such as alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. ARLD typically develops over years of heavy drinking, and not everyone who drinks excessively will develop this condition, but it is a significant risk for those who do. 

What Causes Alcohol-related Liver Disease? 

Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) happens when people drink too much alcohol for a long time. This harms the liver, which tries to break down alcohol. This process creates harmful substances that damage liver cells and cause problems. Additionally, the liver gets stressed because of these harmful substances, and it becomes inflamed, leading to more damage and scars in the liver. This is worsened by the body’s response to this inflammation, which can make things worse. Alcohol also messes up how the liver handles fats, causing fat to build up in the liver cells, which damages them even more.  

Some people might be more likely to get this disease because of their genes. Also, when people drink a lot, their bodies might not get enough important nutrients, which makes the liver damage worse.


Diagnosing alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) involves a comprehensive approach. Your medical history and physical examination provide crucial insights, including alcohol consumption patterns and symptoms. Blood tests assess liver function, enzyme levels, and clotting factors. Imaging techniques like ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI offer detailed views of the liver’s condition. A liver biopsy might be considered to examine tissue damage. Additionally, scoring systems help determine disease severity and potential complications.

How to treat Alcohol-related Liver Disease?

The treatment of alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) depends on the stage of the disease and the severity of liver damage. It’s important to note that the most effective treatment for ARLD is to stop or reduce alcohol consumption, as continued drinking will only worsen the condition. Here are some treatment approaches for ARLD: 

Alcohol Cessation: The cornerstone of ARLD treatment is complete abstinence from alcohol. This is crucial to halt the progression of the disease and allow the liver a chance to heal. In some cases, medical intervention or support groups may be necessary to help individuals overcome alcohol addiction. 

Nutritional Support: Malnutrition is common in individuals with ARLD due to poor dietary intake, impaired nutrient absorption, and increased nutrient requirements by the liver. Nutritional support, including a well-balanced diet and possibly dietary supplements, can help improve overall health and support liver function. 

Medications: Medications may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms or complications of ARLD. These might include medications to reduce inflammation, manage pain, address complications like ascites and edema, and improve overall liver function. However, no specific medication can reverse advanced cirrhosis. 

Liver Transplantation: In cases of severe ARLD where the liver is extensively damaged and liver function is severely compromised, a liver transplant might be considered.  

Supportive Care: ARLD can cause a range of complications such as ascites, hepatic encephalopathy (confusion and cognitive impairment due to liver dysfunction), and bleeding disorders. Supportive care measures can help manage these complications and improve quality of life. 

Mental Health Support: Dealing with ARLD can be emotionally challenging, especially if it requires making significant lifestyle changes. Mental health support, counseling, and support groups can be beneficial for individuals and their families. 

Risks of Having Alcohol-related Liver Disease

Having alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) poses several serious risks to your health and well-being, depending on the stage and severity of the disease. Here are some of the key risks associated with ARLD:

  • Progression to irreversible cirrhosis. 
  • Complications like portal hypertension, ascites, and encephalopathy. 
  • Increased risk of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). 
  • Impaired liver function and essential processes. 
  • Higher susceptibility to infections. 
  • Potential malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies. 
  • Impact on overall quality of life. 
  • Possible need for risky liver transplantation. 
  • Emotional and mental health challenges. 
  • Financial burden due to medical costs. 

When to Seek Medical Attention

Seek medical attention for alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) if you experience any of the following signs, symptoms, or situations: 

  • Abdominal Discomfort 
  • Jaundice 
  • Unexplained Fatigue 
  • Unexplained Weight Loss 
  • Abdominal or leg swelling due to fluid buildup 
  • Changes in Urine and Stool 
  • Confusion or personality changes 
  • Easy bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums 
  • Increased Sensitivity to Alcohol 
  • Difficulty controlling alcohol consumption 
  • Family history, heavy drinking, or suspected issues