Early liver transplant necessary for people with alcoholic hepatitis, says study

Early liver transplant necessary for people with alcoholic hepatitis, says study

Alcoholic hepatitis is an extremely serious condition causing serious liver inflammation in people who are involved in heavy drinking. While the primary function of the liver is to eliminate wastes, repeated onslaught of alcohol causes scarring, which deprives the organ to flush toxins out of the body. As a result, there is a buildup of toxins within the body, causing jaundice-like symptoms. Unaccounted and sudden loss of weight and yellowing of skin and whites of eyes are some of the signs of an inflamed liver.

Apart from heavy alcohol intake, chronic malnutrition and liver injury can also contribute to this condition. If detected early, alcoholic hepatitis can be treated by following complete abstinence, dietary changes or by taking antibiotics and steroids. However, if the disease is in its advanced stage, liver transplant is the best option. The selection of the patients for the transplant is done on the basis of a six-month abstinence rule. A recent study published in the journal Liver International in March 2017 showed that an early liver transplantation in patients with severe symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis was linked with better chances of survival.

Early liver transplant improves survival rate

While excessive alcohol consumption for prolonged periods is primarily responsible for this disorder, genetics and a prior liver disease could also cause alcoholic hepatitis. The disease is generally characterized by inflammation of the liver cells, which further deteriorates with regular alcohol intake, leading to a near fatal and incurable cirrhosis of the liver. Severe alcoholic hepatitis primarily affects the young and the middle aged and is generally considered fatal.

The researchers of the study found that the survival rate of early liver transplant patients was improved at six months, as compared to controls. At six months, the prognosis of survival was 77 percent for early transplant patients as compared to 23 percent for non-transplanted controls. Precisely, patients with early transplant showed survival benefits of 71 percent as opposed to just 23 percent survival rate in the control group. Interestingly, relapse rate was significantly low, with only 12 percent of patients backsliding to alcohol abuse post liver transplant.

Though there are many studies that approve the six-month sobriety criteria, it drastically delays the process of finding a suitable donor for the patient. Even candidates who have low probability of relapse suffer due to delayed treatment. Also, enforced abstinence as a criterion for transplant is not a sufficient predictor of a relapse.

 Early abstinence is the best way to achieve sobriety

Alcoholism is as much a disorder as mental illness requiring proper counseling, psychological support and medication. It is not easy for the users to leave behind the habit of consuming alcohol. Apart from withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, headache, sweating, etc., many people get emotionally attached to drinking. As a result, people continue drinking whenever they feel mentally stressed. However, alcohol addiction can be treated by seeking professional help. In fact, most people who have a history of alcohol abuse do well in treatments that are holistically planned and that replace their preoccupation with alcohol with alternate healthier hobbies, such as clay modeling, sculpting, reading and hitchhiking.

If you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, connect with the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California to access the best alcohol addiction treatment facilities in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online to get information on the best alcohol rehab centers in California.

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