Alcoholic liver disease or alcoholic hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. It is more common in men and occurs as the result of excessive alcohol consumption. 

The liver is one of the most complex organs in the human body with multiple functions. It filters out toxins from your blood, aids in digestion, produces various hormones, and also helps in regulating your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. 

Therefore any damage to the liver can affect the functioning of your whole body. It often takes a long time to become noticeable as the liver cells have the ability to repair and regenerate themselves. 

Read on to understand the causes and symptoms of alcoholic liver disease.

Causes of Alcoholic Liver Disease

The main cause of alcoholic liver disease in men is chronic consumption of alcohol. The process is as follows:

  • Breaking down alcohol leads to the formation of highly toxic chemicals that are harmful to the liver.

  • These chemicals can trigger inflammation in the liver, damaging the liver cells and affecting their function.

Risk Factors

Other than consumption of alcohol, few other factors that can increase your risk of developing alcoholic liver disease include:

  • Age. Alcoholic liver disease is more common in individuals who are between 40 to 50 years of age.

  • Gender. Men are more likely to develop alcoholic liver disease. Women may develop the condition due to other factors, irrespective of their alcohol consumption.

  • Obesity. People who are overweight are more likely to develop alcoholic liver disease and are prone to a speedy progression of the condition.

  • Genetics. Studies suggest that genetics play a role in the development of alcoholic liver disease. Those who have a family history of alcoholic hepatitis are at a higher risk of developing the condition.

Other types of hepatitis (such as hepatitis A, B or C) and poor nutrition can also play a role in the development of alcoholic liver disease.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Liver Disease

The early stages of the disease usually do not show any symptoms. 

As the condition progresses, you will notice distinctive symptoms, which include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

  • Oedema (swelling, in the lower limbs)

  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites)

  • Tenderness on the abdomen

  • Low-grade fever

  • Loss of appetite

  • Curved fingernails

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Blood in stools

  • Easy bruising

  • Behavioural changes

  • Weight loss

  • Muscle wastage

Alcoholic liver disease can be serious if not treated on time. If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, make sure to consult a doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment. 


1. Encyclopedia, M. and disease, A., 2021. Alcoholic liver disease: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 13 October 2021].

2. Natalia A. Osna, K., 2021. Alcoholic Liver Disease: Pathogenesis and Current Management. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: <> [Accessed 13 October 2021].

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