After 6 weeks off the wine, real itchi... - British Liver Trust

British Liver Trust

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After 6 weeks off the wine, real itchiness and other symptoms back with a vengance.. thoughts please


I have not been on here for a while. Last time I was hear I was referred to a Hepatologist after having symptoms of Pins and Needles in Hands and Feet, Sharp stabing pain under the right hand rib area, some tummy troubles, two red patches on each palm, itchy skin, etc etc, I have had lots of liver function tests, an Ultrasound (this was december 2011) and more recenetly a Fibroscan, which was carried out during the Liver Trust Road show in February the results being 6.7 stiffness, All tests have come back normal.

I have on numerous occaions had a couple of months "off the wine" and my symptoms do ease although I do still get the sypmtoms


Anyway the Hepatologist turned out to be a consultant Gastroenterologist who said in his letter "clinical examination was unremarkable there was no jaundice, pallor or lymphadenopathy, no mass in the abdomen.. although he didnt touch my abdomen..and has followed on to say he has reassured me that there is no evidence of liver dameage on bloods ultrasound or Fibroscan and advised to cut down my Alcohol intake I had my bloods taken again then all back normal.

I have just recently had another 6 weeks of not drinking but literally the next day after having wine ALL my sypmtoms were back the wrost they have ever been, REALLY itchy mainly on my face and a feeling of itchiness in my ears, scalp even my eyes!? and really sharp pain under my ribs, the worst it EVER been although now 3 days after not drinking the sharpness pain has pretty much gone. The expert said he was not aware of "Sharp" pain in the liver area being related to liver diease and has come to the conclusion its stress, anxiety and possibily irretable bowel....

26 Replies

briccolone.. so have you been diagnoised?? My last bloods and Fibroscan was Feb, as I said all ok. Does the Fibro Scan give the same results as the Ultrasound? My ggt levels were fine so why do I have the horrible itching???? My symtoms come on after I have drank wine not whlst I a NOT drinking it? Which would as everyone says of course point to my liver disiking the wine.

Are you saying I should not have the compete breaks that I should have a couple of glasses instead of a couple of bottles?

I really cant undersstand why the day after I have had the wine my liver has the sharp pains, especially as the"specilists" dont understand it either!?!?! It does tend to happen later in the day, I dont normally wake up with the sharp pains, sometimes dull.

I have read so many coflicting things about "stages" of liver disease, some says itchiness is an earky symptom and others day its a final stage symptom but none of the doctors I have seen have been at all interested in this.

I am off on a holiday of a life time in a few weeks time and don't know whether to go back to the doctor AGAIN, I was only there last week asking for a copy of my letter from the specilist when she said you are perfectly healthy and I wont be referring you for any more tests. I could go to see another of the doctors but am scared of what they might say, could my condition have got soo terrible in the last 2 months since I had my last lot of tests?

Thanks guys.

hi Suor nflower-no I haven't been diagnosed with anything and my GP is cool with the fact my blòoods are fine apart from elevated ggt and clear ultrasound. Nobody has told me to stop drinking but it's a very good thing I did otherwise I suspect I would have worse issues. My symptoms are very similar to yours-I've looked at your older posts-I think you need to give alcohol a 3 month break at least as I did recently-things improved markedly. I still get issues when I drink even modest amounts of wine which is rarely but the effects are just like yours. I was a heavy drinker of wine for years and love it but I've learned to live without it. Understand the urge to drink a bottle but it's way too much especially for a women as others have said. I would limit yourself to 10 units a week with a couple of wine free days in between and drink wine with water and food. I think you should be ok. the itching suggests some kind of bile blockage somewhere(gallstones) ?


Hi Sunflower

Have your docs and specialist actually diagnosed anything??

My symptoms back in November were generally feeling rubbish, after a heavy bout of drinking, I felt swelling in my liver area and had had pain under my ribs on the right side.

I also had itching, on my abdomen, I was finally diagnosed with fatty liver after a ultrasound scan which, although I had stopped drinking for 5 weeks then started drinking again sensibly, I am now limiting myself to a couple of beers (ie 2) on a Friday night in the pub, 1 to 2 glasses of wine Saturday and Sunday with dinner and that's it.

I have found that the docs, although they appear to know about liver disease, don't show a lot of logic, my condition was found by the scan and my blood tests yearly showed no abnormality but they now want to monitor my condition by the blood tests which doesn't make sense.

I think (and I have no medical knowledge) that you may have some degree of fatty liver, if you feel better after not drinking, I would kill it totally for 3 weeks or a month, see how you feel, eat well with plenty of fresh stuff. It maybe then you could try the odd drink again but take stock and make sure you can limit yourself to the prescribed limits. Also, make sure you have 3 days off booze in the week. One thing I have found is that there is a good range of no alcohol beers which I like, not found any decent zero alcohol wine yet though!

The one thing that seems to be consistent is that (assuming it is a liver issue) that you remove the cause and see how things go,

Good Luck and keep posting with progress.


Hi Keith,

Thanks for your response. No I have not been diagnosed with anything.

As I said all tests have come back clear, they have just told me to cut down on my wine intake which I have done off and on. I have just had 6 weeks totally wine freee, not a drop. I would normally drink about 3/4 times a week but I do drink a bottle of wine each time, not a glass and that is ovbiously way over the recommended.

I last went to the docs last week to discuss my specialist letter and other tets results all of which were clear. I think I should probabally push for another ultrasound but I only had the fibro scan in Feb.

My itching is weird, I have no rash its a feeling from, "within" if that makes any sense whatsoever, this week (after I had wine at the weekend) its my face inside my ears my lipsmy scalp my toes and hands, I dont really actually scratch myself much, sometimes its a feeling of heat? Its hard to explain! I was sooo worried about it last night. My pains on right had side under rib is odd as well as sometimes sooooo sharp.

Last year I had about 4 months off the wine in total but pretty much as soon as I start drinking again it all flares up.

I need to eat more fruit and veg because I really am rubbish at that I have tried alcohol free wine, not impressed! I only really drink wine, dont drink spirits or larger anymore.

Thanks for all your advice, please keep it coming. Oh and the itching seems to be worse at night!

the itching sensation is very familiar to me especially the heat effect. Sounds like liver to me. my itching started in lower limbs and then spread to hands and feet but rarely and this is dissipating. I think you should be counting blessings you don't have serious damage and give the liver a good chance to normalise-you seem to be able to go for a few months without drinking so just add a few weeks and see how it goes. If drinking makes you feel this bad I think it's a no brainer........

Hi sunflower

I wonder if you have developed an allergy to one of the ingredients in wine, such as chemicals, grains or preservatives. Apparently the chemicals added give the cheaper wines body, aroma and flavour. Alcohol intolerance can cause fairly swift reactions after you drink. One of the most common is skin flushing or itching. It sounds like your liver is no longer producing the enzymes that break down the alcohol. The only way to prevent it will be to avoid alcohol altogether.

Alcohol intolerance can also cause stomach cramps. It will, I'm sure. be tempting to drink while on holiday, but if you want to avoid the symptoms train yourself to switch to non-alcoholic drinks. Like Briccolone says, its a 'no brainer'...

briccolone in reply to Bolly

yes I was thinking about wine intolerance-there are an awful lot of chemicals in mass produced wines-don't know what you drink but white wines in particular have high amounts of sulphur dioxide which a lot of people are intolerant of. Have you tried the lower alcholol wines-I don't mean de-alcoholed wines which is a chemical process-there are some good quality lower alcohol wines which may affect you less. Also, if you still want to drink wine then drink water with it especially with food-I've found benefits to this although I'm going weeks or months with no alcohol. You've been having symptoms for some time and so far no obvious damage you can experiment with wine substitutes-does beer have the same results. Look-I'm a wine lover myself-I didn't want to give it up but I've had to massively change my lifestyle.

I also put myself on a 5:2 fasting diet which forces me to a minimum of 2 days off alcohol per week. I've lost 9 kgs, cholesterol down, 3.5 inches off waistline plus look 10 years younger-there are other benefits to stopping drinking apart from health!

I reckon that you and I have a bit of a wine dependancy like a lot of people-we don't want to give it up but in the end may have to. As bolly has says repeatedly-don't wait for more obvious damage before you change drinking habits. WE've been lucky so far. kleam suggests you may have mild fatty liver as do I although blood tests and ultrasound are clear, the fasting diet has certaily helped with this. Give it a try-takes your mind of other things too I recommend it!

Hi all,

Thanks for your responses. As we have said before its obviously the wine thats giving me all these symtoms, even though the specialists say its strees or IBS, i dont believe them. I might try to make yet another appointment with one of the previous docs I have seen and say that the itching hs got worse and the pains under my right rib are still there but I dont know what they will say and I dont know what I want them to say. The symptoms are really weird though some days I can go without any, yesterdayhardly any liver pain yet this morning back again, really sharp????? I didnt used to get t in the mornings before either. :-(

Sunflower if I was getting unpleasant symptoms after eating or drinking something, symptoms that were uncomfortable enough to worry me or take me to the GP, I would prefer to cut the food or drink out of my diet permanently. To me ( and others who have used the words before) its a no brainier.

If you are finding it impossible to stop drinking wine completely, total abstinence, not just 'oh I wont drink any today' or 'i'll give it up for a week/month', then seek some help.

I cant see any point in going back to GP with the same old same old, unless you have for at least 6 weeks, made some radical changes to your diet and lifestyle and at the end of those 6 weeks you have exactly the same symptoms. It seem you HAVE made changes recently, and those changes have removed the symptoms. You don't need a doctor to tell you what you have discovered for yourself, no wine = no symptoms. Bingo, You have your diagnosis and cure!

Re liver pain. The liver has no nerves so cannot produce pain. If enlarged, or if it has something pressing on it, it can cause referred pain elsewhere in the body. You don't have liver pain, you have pain or discomfort in the liver area - which could be caused by a number of different things. People who have liver disease typically don't have sharp pain that comes and goes, its more of a dull sore ache under the rib area.

briccolone in reply to Bolly

agree completely-it's a bit like the old tommy cooper joke about the guy who goes to the doctor and says doctor it hurts when I do this and the doctor says well don't do it then! sorry to bring humour into it but I suspect the medics will take this approach 'ere long. when I first started getting symptoms I was thinking oh no I won't be able to drink wine again but after 6 months I'm thinking well I'm bloody glad I haven't got something serious-

Thanks for your responses. I know I should take your advice..... Thanks again

" I know I should take your advice..... "

I hear a 'but' after this sunflower! Do you know what it is that is making it hard for you to do this?

It's a concern that you say this latest flare up of itching has been on your face and on your lips. This does sound very like an allergic reaction. Allergies to food and drink commonly include itching and swelling of the lips, tongue etc. It can get more serious and affect your breathing. Personally I wouldn't risk drinking wine again, I really wouldn't want to tempt anything that could develop into anaphylaxis.

Hey Bolly thanks for your reponse.... you seem to know me quite well!!!!!!! As I have said before, due to nothing showing on any tests, I think I must be ok!

I have been taking Milk Thistle, do you think I might be alergic to that? I have just read the leaflet which comes with it and some of the possible side effects are, guess what, itching, upset stomach etc. WHat are your thoughts on these tabs? I have had a poory tummy again today, no wine has been drunk but had Diarrohea which also one of the side effetcs. Hubby and I ate the same and he has no probems.

Thank you again for taking the time.

Hi Sunflower,

I look forward to your posts....bolly's right about milk thistle-it does have side effects in some people but very rare-I took it for years. If you want to cleanse your liver don't drink alcohol but I doubt from your meds that you do have a liver problem. the medics are saying drink less because you've told them it causes a problem. As a little experiment go and get a small bottle of good quality beer or cider and have a glass or two and see what happens. if you get no problems it's the wine that's issue if you still get a problem-it's the alcohol you're allergic to. There's nothing like self experimentation! and before bolly tells me off-I've tried this. BTW I'm on the mend after about 7 months of near total abstinence apart from high days and holidays and my symptoms very pretty much identical to yours.

I'm getting the impression you wont believe any diagnosis unless it can be proved medically/scientifically?

Let's say you fell into a nettle bed and came up in a rash - would you believe cause and effect here, or would you only believe a diagnosis of Urticaria if a doctor gave it that name and prescribed antihistamines.

Medical research shows that food/drink allergies occur in people with irritable bowel syndrome. Your doctors have given you IBS as a possible diagnosis. Periodic diarrhoea and stomach pain is a symptom of IBS. Medical research/evidence shows reduction in IBS symptom in patients on elimination diets.

Common sense really.

No I don't think you are allergic to Milk Thistle. You don't have liver inflammation, so unless you are taking the Milk Thistle because you think it will 'cleanse' your liver, you are wasting your money. If you are not drinking, and have a healthy diet, you don't need to 'cleanse' your liver.

briccolone in reply to Bolly

I also echo this-I had IBS almost certainly triggered by a rich diet of seafood and wine-the symptoms have almost completely gone after 6 months off the sauce...

Haha do you look forward to me asking stupid quetions Briccolone!!

Yes I thought Milk Thistle might help my liver..

My itching has been really bad today, again on my face, inside my ears, EYES? on my scalp my tongue and lips, they are not swollen but feeling hot and itchy, it is really scary as I said before, I have heard so many things about liver disease and stages of it, as this is one on the symptoms. Would the wine I drank over a week ago still be giving off these itchy symptoms?? I have felt quite light headed at times over the past few days and a litle dizzy???

Well done Briccolone for NEARLY 7 months off! Sorry I have only just seen one of your previous posts, I drink red wine normally a Cab Sav or Merlot around the £5.00 mark so cheap yes. To be honest I only really drink wine, rarely I will have a cider. I dont need to loose any more weight as I am down to about 8st 5, a year ago I was 9st 5 but tell me more about the fasting diet? Is this the one Bolly mentioned a while back?

hi Sunflower,

ok Bolly's done a pretty exhaustive response with respect to the alcohol side of things. I was trying to find out if it was an allergic reaction to something in the wine or the alcohol itself. I still think it's worth finding that out. I suspect Bolly is right and it's the alcohol but why not try some organic red wine-maybe a glass and see what happens-if the symptoms are less than maybe a couple of glasses a week will be ok-I had a period of pins and needles also which has cleared up through abstinence. I still think I have borderline fatty liver which doesn't show up on ultrasound. I started doing the fasting diet about 3 months after I stopped drinking wine with a couple of xmas exceptions. Most of my problems started after I stopped drinking because I went cold turkey. However after 3 months of fasting diet and no wine I've lost 9kgs 3.5 inches off waist and cholesterol down from 7 to 5.6. Still some way to go. My GGT s were high at 215 at one point but 182 last time I tested. I'm convinced the fasting diet has improved liver function. The diet is based on 2 days a week strict calorie control and the rest of the week you eat normally which includes alcohol (if you need to)on the non fasting days. I feel hugely better for it. The other thing about it is you feel in control-you tend to eat in a more healthy way. I also look 10 years younger! You don't need to lose weight but for liver repair I would Try it!

I may be wrong but that itching doesn't sound like liver related to me although it's true the liver is often involved in skin issues. It actually sounds to me like PAWS because that's what I got. After you stop drinking you can get symptoms for quite some time before they clear up.

Sunflower I've done this before for you but will do it again.

Here is a snapshot of your postings about your doctor visits, and their advice:

"1)have been to my Dr's at least 7 times over the past 3 years and had blood tests which all came back ok I also I had an xray to look at my liver, the results came back fine on that as well.

2)Just got back from Hepatologist who has concluded that I do not have any stage of Liver Disease

3)the Utrasound being normal and the most recent Fibroscan that I had a few weeks back he cant see any signs its my liver.

4) He did say that I need to cut down on my alcohol intake and due to me being quite small I should probably drink less than the recommended amount for women

5) advised to cut down my Alcohol intake

You've had many supportive posts on here also advising you to cut down or abstain from alcohol, with many comments along the lines of

"As you point out you stopped drinking and your symptoms improved. This to me is crux of the situation. You current alcohol use causes you a significant problem and therefore should be the first thing addressed to improve this issue"

The most useful one for you to read and remember is, I think, this one:

"HI I have the very same symptoms as you. The alcohol will be messing your liver up slowly and surely, but the problems you speak of are side effects of alcohol misuse.

I too drink far more wine a week than recommended. I started just with the pins and needles..... I now also have pain in my elbows on a regular basis as well as the pins and needles. the pins and needles are definitely nerve damage, I too went to see a neurologists and had nerve tests but at the time they said I was fine, but the symptoms continued. There will come a time when your symptoms of pins and needles will not be reversible. The pain you speak of under your ribs is not your liver its probably your stomach. Alcohol affects the acid balance in the stomach and eventually you won't be able to turn the symptoms around you will need to be on medication permanently, You will probably also notice eventually u get pain after eating certain things with fat content and bad heartburn and probably bad breath from the acid"

Yet you continue to ask whether we think alcohol is causing you symptoms.

The answer is a clear yes.

The cure is in your hands.

Remember: The clinical test results confirm that you do not have any stage of liver disease. The practical evidence shows that you may have early liver stress and your level of alcohol consumption is causing your symptoms If the liver is struggling to cope then it is a sign that it is struggling to repair itself. Stopping drinking will allow your liver to operate to the best of its ability. While the tests might be negative if you continue drinking you will only progress until your liver is (more) damaged (maybe beyond repair).

Buttons20 in reply to Bolly

Don't mean to scare you I have now quit the wine not through choice but cirrohsis of the liver and yes you can itch with withdrawel and liver disease like I'm itching like hell been there wore the tea shirt and now living the hell don't end up like me best wishes

AyrshireK in reply to Buttons20

Hi Buttons, just to point out this is a 7 year old post & the original poster hasn't been posting on the forum for 6 years now.

sunflower1 in reply to AyrshireK

Hi both.. I am still around though. Thanks for the post.


Sunflower, I have been taking Milk Thistle, don't have any issues with it, in my case, I feel better for using it, I am dubious of any herbal type medicines but I do reckon it does something to assist.

Did you try a few weeks without alcohol totally? You may find that if you feel well after that it is alcohol that is causing the issues.


Hi Keith, I am back on the milk thistle.

I did have a few weeks without the wine and the symptoms ease up a bit but not totally and I still have the very intense itching, hot sensatation.. all my bloods were normal, had them done two weeks ago and saw doc on Monday, she is still sure its stress?!?!?! I am off on holiday on Saturday. So long as i survive that I might do three months off when I get back, what do you think?

hi sunflower-on the basis that a problem shared is a problem halved, let me tell you that your symptoms are identical to mine! I mean identical. I don't think this is stress-your issues are alcohol related-I've had a few months off and most symptoms much improved but as soon as you go over a couple of glasses of wine etc. return of problems, Itching etc. We're both borderline cases I think where scans.,blood tests show nothing but where we have symptoms. We're just going to have to go easy from now on. You should feel better in the knowledge that you don't have something serious...

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