Liver symptoms with normal test results

Hello-

I started having right abdominal pain about 9 months ago. Concerned about my liver because I have been a pretty good binge drinker throughout my life. No drugs...not even Tylenol, but a good boozer.

I've had my liver enzymes checked three times: ALT, AST, ALP, Total Protein, Globlulin levels, Albumin levels and Bilirubin. All three times were normal.

Blood work for pancreas: Lipase, Amylase and Glucose (both fasting and random) all normal.

Stool samples: Normal

Ultrasound: normal on liver, gallbladder, pancreas and right kidney.

HIDA scan: showed normal liver function and gallbladder. (this is a test where they inject dye and take pics)

I do still have symptoms though. They are more secondary symptoms such as rosy palms and my stool seems to be loose most of the time. Right abdominal pain comes and goes. Seems to worsen after exercising.

I have quit drinking completely because this has absolutely terrified me. Other than the binge drinking I am healthy. Exercise 6 days a week, not over weight, a vegetarian and don't eat fast food. Most people would never suspect the amount of booze I have and was able to consume. I was a true closet alcoholic. On my last binge it took three days to stop sweating and shaking. It took months to feel normal mentally and emotionally. Not to mention develop a normal sleep pattern.

I know that was a lot to say. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this and respond.

Wendy

25 Replies

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  • what amounts per week and how long for, how old are you etc?

    i stopped after a binge made me ill, very ill, had 6 weeks off work and it took most of the year to feel better, still not 100%.

    All my Liver tests were good and I had 3 sets over 6months, ultrasound normal and a Fibroscan of 4.2kpa, its did show a small amount of fat above normal even after 6 months of not drinking, but far from any serious damage.

    I still get some gas and odd twinges on my right side. I think its the colon, your digestive system might be damaged or sore, this would not show on ultrasound or in the bloods.

    I drank a couple of times a week for about 20 years(i was 38 when i stopped), first 10 not too bad with large breaks, but 2nd 10 it was regular couple of bottles of wine binges, 40-60units a week I would say.

    alot do have this mystery right pain issue, not found a definite provable answer yet

  • Hi Ralph-

    I started drinking very rarely though about 20 years ago also. Then the last ten turned into some major binge drinking. Two to three bottles of wine on a Friday night. Wake up with a hangover on Saturday morning, so naturally I'd drink a couple of beers and feel better. Then that cycle would continue through to Monday morning when it was time to go to work. That wasn't every weekend for ten years but 6 of ten weekends would be binging. My last binge lasted four days and was with Crown Royal. I knew after that one I had done something to my poor liver. I had bad abdominal pain and bloating. That was a HUGE wake up call. Before that I never even thought about the damage I was doing to my liver, not to mention the pancreas.

    I have a follow up appointment with my GI Dr on the 5th of August. I think I may request a stomach scope. Something is going on. Or...could be, like you mentioned, digestive system adjusting and/or healing.

    How long have you not drank alcohol? Being from the United States, we go by bottles not units....how much is 40 to 60 units?

    Thanks for your response.

    Wendy

  • sounds like you had Gastritis. 40-60 is about 4-6bottles of 750cl wine. I would have 2 bottles of wine a session and never drank in the morning. the fact you had the week off should have helped your liver recover, but over a long time it can cause some damage, but its impossible to say. your tests should rule out major damage. but i dont think we all get away unscathed , as we age bowel and stomach are common in drinkers or ex-drinkers.

    A better Liver test is the fibroscan, but im sure your liver will be fine long term. the intestines and stomach are very hard to settle down once they are annoyed. If you think about it, with things moving through them all the time and acids and strong enzymes aswel, any soreness or damage will take ages to heal. a bit like breaking your arm and waving it about expecting it to heal.

  • Hi Ralph-

    As strange as this may sound, your comments make me feel better. I'll take digestive issues over liver problems any day. Thank you for your feedback. I will ask my doctor on the 5th about the fibroscan. I just started learning about that.

    If yours indicated just a small amount of fat I think that is great news. From everything I've read it is completely reversible with diet adjustment, exercise and refraining from alcohol.

    I just started reading some literature titled "The Ezra Protocol". It's written by a homeopathic doctor who has had great success in healing liver patients, even some with beginning cirrhosis. If you get the chance look it up. I'd be curious to hear what you think about it.

    Thanks again. Have a great and healthy Tuesday.

    Wendy

  • HI

    We always think the worst when alcohol starts to show its damaging us. I have been drink free for 13 months, im slowly starting to feel my old healthy self. Like you my tests were fine, but i have little doubt i did some damage. because you just know and being ill for aslong as I was there had to be something going on.

    But the human body is brilliant at repairing and the Liver is the best we have, its designed to repair, its wants to repair! You can get to F2 Fibrosis and make a full recovery in a couple of years, the Liver is a very tough organ, dont forget that. The fact you were having the week off is a huge plus for your Liver not being too badly battered. Your tests back this up.

    A FIbroscan should put your mind a ease, its a very good test, it will see things an MRI, CT and ultrasound cant, its painless and done in 5 mins!

    After a pretty heavy 10 years I gladly accepted a little bit of fat above normal. I was thinking the worst at one point and even thinking about some kind of nursing home for when my Liver starting to shut down completely! Its a very scary time and I was angry at the lack of information about alcohol, I have grown up around alcohol and everyone I know drinks above the limits. I never thought it was a problem I rarely drank 2 nights in a row and never drank in the morning. I thought you had to be waking up to half a bottle of vodka everyday to get Liver problems and drinking 3,4 or 5 hundreds units a week etc, not the case at all!

  • You are so right. I had the dangers of drugs pounded into my brain growing up, but never anything about alcohol. And oddly enough, alcohol withdrawals are more dangerous than the withdrawals of most drugs. In fact, it can be deadly; yet this drug is legal. Interesting isn't it?

    When I was drinking it never occurred to me that I was doing any damage to my liver....I thought because I didn't do drugs I was doing great. Also surrounded myself with friends who drank as much, if not more than me, so that justified that I was normal and fine too. Everyone is certainly different in how their body can handle the effects of alcohol. I know of men who have drank and smoked everyday and lived into their eighties. Then I've seen a twenty year old die of cirrhosis. Very Scary indeed and a huge void in information of the dangers of alcohol.

  • hi Wendy-you can definitely have symptoms and yet have clear ultrasounds and tests etc. You can have quite a bit of fat on the liver which doesn't show up but causes digestive issues/mild discomfort etc. It can take 3 months or more after cessation of drinking to clear things up. If you like check my previous posts on this for extra context. Wecome to the forum btw.

  • Hi briccolone-

    I agree with you. Regardless of all my tests being normal; I have no doubt that I did some damage. I can feel it. I know that doctors are well educated, but they can't step inside my body and feel what I'm feeling. I do pray that all I have is a fatty liver and not any beginnings of cirrhosis. A fatty liver I can work with. It's just so strange to me now how I never thought about the damage I was doing on my poor liver and pancreas. Nobody warns you about that with alcohol. However the dangers of drugs was pounded into my brain growing up like a nail into a wall. Got that memo loud and clear lol.

    I will definitely check out your other posts too. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it.

    Wendy

  • you're more than welcome-this is a very useful site-loads of very useful feedback. liver issues woefully under reported and diagnosed in the UK whatever the cause. as far as cirrhosis is concerned-there are plenty of people on this site better qualified than me to respond. I haven't been diagnosed with it...yet...

  • "Nobody warns you about that with alcohol". I always find this difficult to reconcile with the 'Drinkaware' message, the govt recommendations about safe limits, and the various UK tv ad campaigns about drinking within safe limits. Do these count as a warning, an attempt at education, or count as nothing at all?

  • Yes unless you have been living in a cave your whole adult life how can you not be aware of the dangers of Alchol?

  • Mama41-

    Good morning, as it is only 7:30am here.

    I can not speak for the UK, but growing up here in the United States I most certainly can tell you that the dangers of alcohol are not promoted. The government spends billions of dollars trying to educate and control the sale and use of street drugs.

    There is also the misconception that since alcohol is legal that it must be OK, and yet alcohol withdrawals are the worst withdrawals that a person can go through; can even lead to seizures, coma and death. All withdrawals are uncomfortable and painful, but not all are deadly...yet alcohol is legal. I don't recall a campaign that I have seen that talked about alcohol being that addictive, can lead to heart failure, kidney and liver disease, pancreatic failure or wreck your personal life.

    As we get older we obviously start to figure out the dangers of alcohol, but often for some they are already alcoholics.

    In fact, it's quite the opposite when it comes to alcohol. The alcohol industries are allowed to spend millions of dollars every year promoting their products through advertising campaigns and how mush fun everyone has when consuming their products. They promote through their ads....a fun and great lifestyle. Much like the pharmaceutical companies promote their drugs. Hey if a doctor prescribed it, and it's legal, it must be ok right? Yet how many people have you known that have been addicted to prescription meds? I know I've known quite a few.

    So no, I disagree with you. And I didn't grow up in a cave. I learned on my own through trial and error and watching others the dangers of alcohol.

    Now you go have a nice day.

    Wendy

  • I'm sorry but as someone who lived in the states for 10 years I don't buy the excuse that you aren't made aware that drinking too much Alchol is bad for your health.

    Alchol comes with a warning on it both in the UK and the USA. If you choose to ignore that then I guess that's down to you.

    At some point surely you have to take responsibility for your own actions.

  • I did not say it was an excuse, what I said, if you actually read it, was that it's not promoted or advertised about the dangers the way the "War On Drugs" is and has been. Yet it is promoted by the alcohol industries. You did read that right? I don't hear anyone on here making excuses but rather sharing information and experiences.

    I've never ignored anything about alcohol, but what I do know has come from my own research and quest for knowledge...it wasn't given to me.

    For someone, who I've never met, nor has anyone on here I'm sure has met you...You seem to have some pretty strong opinions and know what it's all about.

    So I congratulate you on having all the answers. Great job. You must be very proud. I hope I don't grow up to be like you.

    Have a great day :-)

  • Yeah still don't see consumption of alcohol can lead to addiction, cirrhosis of the liver, acute and chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer and organ failure.

    I do recall seeing a commercial growing up showing a fried egg and comparing it to my brain on drugs. Also recall seeing a commercial of a man who was pulling an oxygen tank and had a hole is throat so he could breath from smoking. So in addition to a warning label on the cigarette pack there was also an advertising campaign with TV ads, billboards, radio ads and magazine ads about how smoking could harm your health. With drugs they just made them illegal and a felony crime.

    Don't recall seeing an ad showing a person bed ridden, fatigued and the color of a yellow high lighter (jaundice) from drinking alcohol.

    Granted there were campaigns about the consequences of driving while impaired but not about what it will do to your internal organs.

    The only alcohol ads I've ever seen were showing people laughing and having a great time while consuming alcohol.

    That was the observation.

    Obviously, growing up you figure it out but it would be nice that it was finally acknowledged that alcohol is a drug that can be addicting, dangerous and deadly.

  • Hi there, Don't know if helps or not but number one. Don't return to drink ever again, and maintain your good diet, mentally it will help you heal faster. I used to have a pain in my side for about 5 years and had every liver test possible including a biopsy and my liver was fine. In the end it turned out to be an Anxiety pain which can occur in some people.

    However 10 years on . I do now have cirrhosis conformed with a biopsy now, yet a lot of my blood test will show up clear and Ok, apart from Protein, and my ultra sound will show no cirrhosis sometimes and come up clear. (DEPENDING sometimes on the person taking the ultrasound) But I do have cirrhosis conformed with biopsy. Sadly every seems to be a bit different. But abstinence is the best treatment.

  • Hi Chadwell-

    Sorry to hear that cirrhosis showed up ten years later. I have read that it is manageable though the earlier it is caught and yours has got to be sooooo early on.

    After you had the clear tests and biopsy did you drink again or were you abstinent and it showed up anyway? I know that when all my tests kept coming back normal I had these moments of believing that I could drink again. It gave me a false sense of assurance. As smart as these doctors are, the one thing they can't do, is step inside our bodies and feel what's going on. There isn't a shadow of a doubt that I hurt, inflamed or pissed off my liver. However anyone wants to put it. And I agree with you wholeheartedly.....for me alcohol can never be a part of my life or in my body again.

    Thanks for responding :-)

    Wendy

  • i was diagnose about 5 years ago with a fatty liver through blood test this then went away, then I develop alcoholic hepatitis and then I stop drinking when I went to rehab, and I remained sober for 2 years then diagnosed with cirrhosis and lived with it for a year, and it just started creating a few health issues however with a change in diet plus pills. should put it on hold for a few years, I,ve remained sober for 3 years .however I saw my consultant yesterday and he reckoned Ive got a good 5 years before I start to get in trouble. Providing I stick to a very strict diet. Ps I am very fit and I thought I had a good diet and Im 34. But my drinking was everyday and I was drinking 1liter of whiskey a day and not eating as I was living on the streets at the time. But the key to it is remain sober.

  • Wow, living on the streets is got to be tough. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on being sober for three years....that is something to be proud of no doubt.

    I believe that the human body, when treated well, can do things that defy what even conventional medicine can even explain. It's all a balance...physically, emotionally and spiritually You are on the right path for sure. Great job!!!

  • You kept on drinking for 10 more years, or you quit and 10 years later developed cirrhosis?

    I've been drinking 8 to 10 beers a night for about 10 years. I'm down to 3. Hope to be tapered down to none soon.

    EDIT: sorry didn't see you followed up. I see now.

    How long were you drinking a liter a day for?

  • I was like you, same level of drinking for about the same period (10 years). I started drinking very young. Then I stop and had bad withdrawals had loads of test and biopsy etc and all was fine. Then remaind sober for 5years then I started drinking again and after six months of drinking I had a random Blood test that showed a fatty liver. Then this died down despite drinking for another 3 years. Then I develop alcoholic hep this is when I stop again for the second time. and 2 years later, cirrhosis despite being sober for 2 years. Hope this make sense.

  • Yes,it does. Thanks for taking the time to reply. Stay healthy bud

  • That's ok anytime, just hope it helps. Well done for cutting down. I know how Many times I tried and fail and if you can stop by your self that's really good. I needed 14 detoxes in the end, and it was not pretty. Because the drugs used to stop detox can give your liver a kicking and your brain and I would not wish it on anyone. if you can avoid that it's brilliant. Don't give up. And if you need support just mail me.

  • My Liver showed fatty on ultrasound, was not told this, just over heard the radiologist telling a student she was teaching, when I asked the doctor regards what I overheard he said well you drink a lot and your extremely overweight.

    Great bedside manner, I was treated like dirt when I was admitted to hospital by the doctors and nurses. When I was taken in I had returned from a fortnight away I had eaten all sorts and drank lots of red wine, prior to that I never touched alcohol for 3months, maybe a shock to my system.

    I was diagnosed with gallstones which showed on the scan.

    I told them about my drinking when admitted so they knew about my problem, drinking on and off for 20+ years, I was put on a yellow drip????

    When I asked what it was they said for all to hear you must have alcohol addiction, the drip is vits&minerals for alcoholics!!!!!

    I was so upset, when I was discharged the nurse gave me my paperwork and antibiotics, shoved them in my hand and said "and stay off the booze"

    I hope one day this world or should I say the people in it wake up and realise that alcoholism is not a condition we wish upon ourselves, we are unfortunate to be tarred with this brush. I wish I didn't feel the need for a drink, it's ruined years of my life, and my dearest loved ones, its the one and only thing I wish I could change about myself, who do you know that goes through life Without something they would like to change about themselves???

    Sorry to rant on. On a lighter note my. GP told me if it was anything other than fatty liver it would show on the scan? Also my Gamma bloods would be high? That I would be jaundiced, yellow eyes?

    To be told your ok, then get diagnosed with severe liver disease 10 yrs later must be devastating, especially if you have Stopped drinking for a long period of time.

    I do not drink anymore, have lost weight, eat an extremely strict healthy diet, and got my cholesterol right down, from diet and excercise. The only thing I struggle with is getting long lasting sleep, and hopefully that will come in time.💙

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