Intensely scared that I have alcoholic cirrhosis

Hi folks,

I am a 46 year old male from Belfast.

After 25 years or so of generally moderate, social drinking, a series of negative life events over recent years caused me to develop depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Exactly one year ago, I started to self-medicate with alcohol. My drinking became heavier in October 2014 when I had two severe (80+ units) binges, both lasting 2 days. On both occasions, I ended-up in hospital for detoxing.

I then drank very little from November 2014 to March this year. However, I started to drink more heavily again in March, with occasional binges (no hospital treatment), then more heavily in June and very heavily (80+ units per week) in July.

In August, I had occasional binges and also attended the GP surgery twice for blood tests. The first test was done in early August. This showed the AST enzyme at 96 and GGT at 121. The other blood tests (LFTs and full-blood count were normal). I had blood tests repeated later in August. These showed AST down to 25 and GGT down to 72. The other blood tests were all normal. A GP also gave me a physical exam and said my abdomen was soft and supple and there was no sign at all of liver inflammation, enlargement or hardness. She said my liver was fine, and the blood tests simply reflected recent heavy drinking.

My last drink was a binge last Thursday and Friday (about 50 units on both days). This time, I suffered alcohol poisoning and had to be admitted to hospital.

While in hospital, I developed some very sinister symptoms. First, a painful red rash appeared on my chest. I was given anti-biotics for this and it does seem to be improving. Next, and more sinister, something like a spider naevi, only it looks more like a bruise now, appeared on my arm. Then some hair fell-off my left arm. I also noticed some bruises. My palms went red and painful. The backs of both hands turned a darker colour. I had many pimples across my body. I was sweating profusely on-and-off. Even my genitals darkened.

While in hospital, I spoke with a doctor. He said that liver function tests had been conduced on my admission to hospital. He talked me through the results and said that, while some of the enzymes (AST and GGT) were elevated, but both under 100, the others were normal. Nonetheless, he could see how frantic with worry I was and agreed to repeat them (this is 3 days after my last drink). When the results came, he talked me through them. The AST and GGT were less elevated than 3 days before, and the other tests were again all normal. The doctor said that I did not have either cirrhosis or hepatitis. Unfortunately, he couldn't explain the strange symptoms, other than the rash which he said was folliculitis.

I was released from hospital after 3 days. Some of the strange symptoms have gone or improved, but others (brusies, spider naevi) have remained. I also feel tired and fuzzy-headed, despite sleeping well. I am eating OK and trying to eat and drink healthily. I've not drunk any alcohol and don't feel any inclination to.

Despite the GP (2 weeks ago) and the doctor in the hospital saying that I do not have any sign of serious liver disease, the unpleasant symptoms are telling me that I have - because they appeared so suddenly after my very heavy binge last Thursday and Friday. I don't see what else could have caused most of the symptoms other than my liver having been damaged.

I see my regular GP next Monday but am frantic with worry and feel helpless and in limbo in the meantime.

I don't know if or how any of you can help me, but would appreciate any comments.

Many thanks.

60 Replies

  • Hi,

    Well from what you're saying it' sounds like your doctors are correct.

    The unpleasant things could result from any number of causes - and it's not as if going out of your way to destroy a load of liver cells isn't going to have some effect on your body overall - don't forget also that being drunk (tipsy etc) means that the amount of alcohol you've ingested has exceeded the liver's processing ability - so alcohol in the bloodstream will also have various effects.

    But from what you've said, your doctors seem to have it correct. Assuming it's alcohol related and not from another cause - there can be a number of causes of liver disease but what you've reported and what the docs have said make sense.

    A thought exercise.......

    IF I take a moment to indulge you and we assume that you do in fact have alcoholic hepatitis and fibrosis (and this is not impossible even with normal results as your liver can do it's job even when large parts are fibrotic) what do you imagine the course of treatment will be? And what will happen next?

    Well the treatment will be for you to stop drinking, and for the docs to look out for anything getting worse and hope that you've caught it in time so the liver can regenerate.

    That's it. There's no magic treatment to regrow liver or stop the scarring. You have to remove the cause and hope the liver's remarkable regenerative ability will kick in to improve things or at least stop them getting worse. Doctors will treat complications as they arise but the importance of ending the cause of the hepatitis can't be overstated.

    So..... stop drinking. Look at the guidelines and stick to them - but also give your liver regular breaks from drinking - i.e. a few days a week - low level but persistent drinking can also destroy a lot of liver - you have to allow time for healing.

    Hope that helps.

    Best regards.

    A couple of threads with more detail here......

  • Thanks, Mister X.

    I've basically told you everything, but forgot to say that I have lost about a stone / 6kg in the past 3 weeks, which is also very worrying, as I've tried to eat normally, and ate very well in hospital.

    Wouldn't you be worried about the elevated enzymes, especially the AST?

    What I also meant to say was that, so far anyway, there is no sign of jaundice (and the doctor said the things that could cause jaundice were normal in the LFTs, indicating good liver function), I haven't been bleeding, no clay-coloured or black poo, and no dark urine. I also only have mild abdominal discomfort, which I'm putting down to alcohol withdrawal.

    I think the unexplained bruising, some hair loss / hair thinning, and the almost constant sweating and clamminess are most disturbing.

    But, as you say, apart from asking for other opinions and advice in places like this, there's not much more I can do.

    Thanks again.


  • Hi,

    Re: AST - no I wouldn't. In the context of what you've reported and the fact that it went back into normal range I agree with your doctors. AST is a single enzyme, it's not liver specific and whilst you never want it out of range, an episodic high under 100 is not all that unusual or serious. What you've reported - the rise in AST and GGT is consistent with alcohol intake.

    As you point out nearly all the other indicators of liver dysfunction are normal - given that most of what the liver does is chemical - you would expect to see some more evidence if it was severely damaged. In your mind do separate the hepatitis (inflammation) from the damage to the liver (fibrosis or cirrhosis). Your liver results don't indicate either.

    That doesn't mean you haven't done any damage - the liver can work pretty well on only 20% and it regenerates itself too (so even with a lot of damage you can still live normally) but that at the moment it's all looking ok. If you keep drinking though it won't and nobody can tell you how long it will take to get past the point of no return.

    You also point out you don't have the classic markers of liver dysfunction and your test results are normal. I agree you should be concerned about the weight loss but there's no reason at this stage to think it's liver related but you may want to keep an eye on it and work with your GP on investigating it if you don't stabilise.

    Do read the other threads I linked to. Other than that I'll re-iterate that even if you do have an issue the only treatment will be to stop drinking and if you don't want an issue you have to stop drinking. I'll let you work that one out.

    I have cirrhosis of the liver. Trust me you don't want it. Fortunately you don't appear to but make sure you don't get it. It's very very serious despite how casually we bandy the word about.

    Best of luck.

  • Thank you again, Mister X.

    That all makes sense.

    I guess the reason I am so worried is because the amount of alcohol I was drinking was ridiculous, and it just crept-up on me.

    From being a social drinker - a few beers on Fridays with workmates, a glass or two of wine with food or bottles of beer while watching sport on TV at home - in recent months it was a couple of boxes of wine and a bottle of spirits of week, and occasionally more.

    I have stopped drinking and don't have any inclination to do so again. (I'm not saying that I'll always feel that way, that would be a blasé thing to say when the urge could return.)

    It seems obvious that, feeling poorly as I do, this has got to be as a result of my drinking and putting my liver under severe strain.

    As I said, some of the unpleasant symptoms that suddenly hit me at the weekend have gone or at least improved, but others remain: the unexplained bruises, red marks under the skin, a spider naevi and the profuse sweating in particular.

    My GP is very helpful and supportive. I know I am (supposedly) an intelligent adult, but I do wish he had been firmer with me about the severe risks I was doing to my health with my heavy drinking. Hopefully, it's not too late.

    Once again, Mister X, many thanks for your educative responses.



  • I should also say that I am definitely suffering from some hair loss and, more widespread, hair-thinning just about everywhere that men have hair.

    I am also light-headed and feel like I have brain-fog.

    Can someone have ill-effects of, say, fatty liver or inflammation such as those unpleasant symptoms I have reported on a temporary basis if the culprit for same - alcohol - is removed?

    I really do feel unwell, though I may still also be experiencing some alcohol withdrawals having drunk so much (about 50 units each day) last Thursday and Friday. (I know, what WAS I thinking ...)

  • Well 100 units in 2 days 5 or 6 days ago should leave you feeling rather rough...

    You should take up the new symptoms with your GP - weight loss, hair loss, bruising etc aren't good obviously and so it wouldn't be responsible to say nothing is up... You should also discuss your relationship to alcohol with him/her

    As regards liver issues specifically though, again nothing you're pointing out indicates a liver problem - and in any case the only possible treatment for you will be to stop drinking.

    If you drink a large amount of alcohol you will inflame and destroy a large number of cells and also increase fat infiltration of the liver - and you may well have done this but not in a couple of days to the extent of severe liver disease.

    IF you have caused a huge amount of damage to the liver - ie enough damage for it to be causing any of these problems you would expect some evidence of that in the blood tests.

    You can certainly have a large amount of damage to the liver and still have normal blood results - ie the liver is still working and performing its functions despite a large amount of damage.

    What you can't have - at least I've not come across it - is manifestations of end-stage liver disease, spider nevi, hepatic encephalopathy (confusion), blood clotting issues etc - i.e. things that happen when the liver cannot carry out its' functions but perfectly normal blood results - there would have been other enzyme and function results you haven't mentioned that were normal . You'd expect to see some indication that the liver is not processing properly.

    At the moment then if I were in your shoes I'd start seriously planning to address the root causes of the drinking - and I don't mean to be blasé about that it's a difficult thing to do. Additionally you should take these new symptoms to your GP for discussion. Finally though, if you're using google do beware that it can cause panic by providing explanation of symptoms without context - often in discussion of extremes.

    Hope that helps.

    Best regards.

  • You're very helpful, Mister X, you really are.

    Just to confirm: I have had a full panel of liver function tests (and full-blood count and clotting tests) a few times since the summer.

    In all cases, the FBC and clotting tests were normal or within normal ranges.

    For the LFTs, I only know the values for AST and GGT but was told that, in all cases, the other important measures like ALT, ALP, Albumin, Bilirubin and Total Protein have always been within normal ranges in all of these tests.

    As to the drinking, I drank very heavily (80 units or so) twice in October 2014, then only moderately for the next 3-4 months, which (I assume) would not have put much pressure on my liver.

    My heavy drinking resumed in March this year: that is to say, moderate drinking interspersed with occasional binges. I would say I was averaging about 80 units per week, but this would have grown to 150 units in the last week in July.

    I had two separate binges in August: 60 units on 1 August and the 100 units at the end of last week. For the rest of August, my weekly drinking would have been about 30 units per week.

    So, we're really talking about 5 consecutive months of heavy or very heavy drinking. Naively, I wouldn't have thought that would be enough to cause serious liver damage or cirrhosis. Now, having researched the subject, it seems entirely possible.

    My self-medication and drinking out of boredom simply got out of hand, and it's a shame it has taken this very real scare to bring me to my senses and stop.

    As I said earlier, I don't have the slightest inclination to drink now and feel that, if I have got away with it, I genuinely won't be in any hurry to do so again.

    Thanks again, Mister X, and goodnight to you.


  • You are probably bound to feel like crap after that intake and what happened re alcoholic poisoning.

    I would think these symptoms were due to the extreme intake of alcohol on the binge; though i'm no expert. You could die through binging like this re poisoning yourself.

    I think these are all warning signs and you are fortunate to not have liver damage.

    You would not want cirrhosis; its horrendous.

    Seek help from your G.P.

    It seems when you drink you cannot stop and go completely over the top with your intake. You must stop doing this. Get help re depression. It seems the depression is causing you to drink; but then, you are risking your life by extreme intakes of alcohol.

    You must ask for help now, and think about your lifestyle, tackle the depression and somehow find ways of dealing with it, other than hitting the bottle.

    I know, its bloody hard! but if you read some of the stories on here, you wont want the alternative.

    Good luck.

  • Hi there, thanks for your reply. I am on various psychiatric medications and have tried things like counselling and CBT, but with limited success.

    I know, I could easily have died. I had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance and was monitored through the night in A&E before being transferred to an assessment ward for the next few days.

    It was while in the assessment ward that the strange physical symptoms started, and it is the physical symptoms that are really bothering me. (Perhaps strangely, my preoccupation with these seems to have taken my mind off the mental stuff.)

    Hair loss / thinning, many bruises, red dots under the skin, spider naevi, etc, are just not natural, and are all symptoms of cirrhosis.

    I'm scared stiff and have no inclination to drink!

    Thanks again.


  • hi i'm not an expert on cirrhosis and mr x seems to have answered a lot of your questions on that-some of of your symptoms appear to be PAWS related (post alcoholic withdrawal syndrome). I went through something similar a couple of years back and I Posted a few posts on that-try searching on that although there's not a lot on the internet and GPs generally not too aware. I found after 3 months abstinence all those anxiety type symptoms/insomnia etc. disappeared-just a thought. The liver even if a bit damaged can repair amazingly.

    good luck

  • Hi there, thanks for your reply. I'll read-up on PAWS.

    I've been dealing with worsening mental health issues for over 2 years now, but it's the physical problems that SUDDENLY affected me while in hospital a few days ago that have really alarmed me as, apart from the sweating, they were all new, strange and very unpleasant.

    At one stage, I looked like a victim of bad make-up on a cheap horror movie. Some of the symptoms (like itchy skin and red palms) have gone or subsided, but the rest mostly remain. I am particularly concerned about the unexplained bruises, skin discolouration on the backs of my hands, a spider naevi-type blotch on my right arm, and some hair-loss and widespread change to the texture of my hair. These are scary.

    I've posted as far as possible my blood results, but these physical symptoms have convinced me that the binge last Thursday/Friday, following months of heavier than recommended drinking and occasional binges, finally tipped me over the edge and into cirrohsis territory.

    I'm just off the phone to one of the GPs in my local surgery. She wasn't terribly helpful. As in the hospital, I think that when drink is involved it's almost they think you're a nuisance whose problems are just self-inflicted and you can go to the back of the queue. She just said I would have been monitored in hospital and to make a routine appointment at the surgery to discuss my concerns. Telling her that I was terrified didn't make any difference.

    I find it hard to believe that these on-going strange, unpleasant symptoms could be temporary.

  • Good morning Gavin

    First can I say it takes courage to admit how much alcohol you drink, and you are quite right when you say although you have no inclination to drink now that could change in a few weeks when you feel better.

    Have the Hospital or your GP offered any help re your relationship with alcohol? Counselling (I had one to one).

    From your post you sound like an intelligent person, and obviously very concerned about your liver. Sorry doc not being much help, but when you do see them could you ask for US scan, to ease your mind. MisterX always gives good informative replies.

    You say some of your 'sinister' symptoms are subsiding, that's good, I had plenty and it took a while for them to disappear. Unfortunately, depression and alcohol are like the 'chicken and egg', which comes first? They fuel each other.

    You'll have good days and bad days, we all do - but take it one step at a time. Best Wishes, Anne

  • Good morning, Anne. Thanks for your reply.

    I never saw any of this ever happening to me, as my relationship with alcohol had generally been 'healthy' (if there's such a thing). But I guess everyone who gets adversely affected by their drinking says that.

    When you say you had plenty of 'sinister' symptoms, do you mean similar physical ones, too, or just more vague ones like sweating, loss of appetite, etc?

    It's things like the skin darkening, bruising and hair-thinning that particularly have me thinking the worst. Some of the others I can easily put-down to far too much alcohol over a very short space of time and now alcohol withdrawal.

    Mister X's replies have been excellent and informative - it's just these continuing symptoms.

    I'm drinking plenty of water, fruit and vegetable juices and eating healthily. I'll try and get some exercise, but feel energyless. There's nothing else I can really do until I see my GP next week.

    Thanks again.


  • Hi Gavin

    I was actually extremely ill - admitted to hospital with liver failure, jaundice, hepatitis, ascites, sepsis - not expected to make it through the night. I did and 2 and half years, still here! My last US scan showed normal liver and my Fibroscan showed significant reduction in scarring - so all good.

    It's not an easy road to travel, especially when you are anxious and depressed, but each day make a note of the positive things you do eg. Posting on this forum, drinking water! How's your appetite at the moment?

    I am quite a shy/private person, but will try and answer any questions you have, if I can. Anne

  • Hi Anne,

    Oh dear, that sound truly awful. But, delighted that you pulled through and are here to tell the tale and doing well.

    That is why I am so scared. In the past few days, it has got to the point that I worry about blowing my nose, clearing my throat or going to the toilet in case lots of old or fresh blood appears.

    It is the bruises (there are several, in different parts of my body), red dots under the skin, darkening of the skin on the backs of my hands (like excessive sun-tan), and the extensive hair-thinning that are concerning me most. I didn't have any of those things before last weekend, and they all developed really quickly. They MUST be because of the heavy alcohol intake and, in my mind, liver damage / disease. (They all fit with serious liver disease, according to the NHS website.)

    My appetite is not bad, but I am having to make an effort to eat. That is just not me - I have generally always had a good appetite - always eating lots of healthy food, so that I could feel less guilty about eating the unhealthy stuff!

    I used to be quite a successful (and happy) person: good job, good partner, out-going, self-controlled. How quickly poor judgment and twists of fate can turn things upside-down ....



  • I am in real panic about this now.

    I just feel really unwell and have these very obvious physical symptoms like several bruises and hair loss / thinning. These and other symptoms all point to cirrohsis, according to the NHS website.

    How likely is it that 5 months of heavy / very heavy drinking, on-and-off, would cause cirrohsis?


  • Very Very unlikely.

    Please understand I mean this in the kindest way possible but you must get a grip if you can.

    Make an appointment with your GP and discuss your symptoms without adding your conclusions - they will muddy the water.

    Panic will make you feel unwell. Stress can cause your hair to fall out. Blasting your liver with large amounts of alcohol will affect your body for a while - this is only 6 days later.

    In your mind when thinking about your liver please separate the inflammation from the damage.

    You may very well have inflamed it with the excessive drinking - and you may very well be paying the price for that - as well as paying the price for letting a load of alcohol poison cells around your body. That's not the same as having damaged so much liver tissue with scarring that it can't function anymore.

    Most of the symptoms of cirrhosis you don't have. Your blood levels are normal. Most of what the liver does is chemistry - you would expect to see some indication of loss of function in the blood results.

    Again, and please think this through from a liver perspective - the only thing the doctors will be able to do in all circumstances is to tell you to stop drinking, monitor bloods - all of which are normal - and deal with complications (encephalopathy, ascites/oedema, portal hypertension) as they arise. As you have normal bloods and none of the major complications, they will send you home with an injunction against drinking and schedule more blood tests in a few weeks to see how things are going - which will presumably still be normal from a starting point of normal and without the addition of alcohol. In the meantime your liver will be rapidly repairing itself and regenerating tissue.

    So actually you have a lot to be optimistic about. Make sure you stop drinking, see a doc about the symptoms if they persist or require immediate attention and get your life moving forward.

    Having said all that I'm only talking from an alcohol and liver perspective as that and alcohol are what you are focussing on. IF you feel ill regardless of that you should go and discuss it with a GP at an appointment. If it's really desperate then the A&E.

    I do genuinely feel for you. Many of us here have been through it ourselves, and it's no fun, in your case however I think your doctors are giving you good advice - unless there is something in your symptoms that warrants immediate attention

    Sorry if that's a bit long. My answers tend to be I'm afraid. Try and have a good evening.

    Best wishes.

  • listen-what are your GGT levels-? and how long is it since you last had a drink? it takes a good 6 weeks to get the alcohol out of the took me 6 weeks to get back on track and a further 6 weeks for the digestive system to calm down-everyone's symptoms differ. no point stressing on

    past binges-what done is done-stay on the healthy food and no booze and things will gradually stabilize-and stop googling yourself to death!

  • Hello Briccolone.

    I can't remember exactly what my GGT results were at the weekend or start of this week, only that they were under 100 both times - lower at the start of the week than at the weekend. Sorry to be so vague.

    I do know that, 72 hours after the binge on 1 August the GGT was 121. Two weeks later, after I had had very little to drink for 2 weeks, it was down to 72.

    I don't know enough about liver enzymes to make sense of all this - some people seem to think GGT is more important, others AST, others ALT, others a combination of them, and others look at different measures altogether.

    I really do feel like crap, worse than I did 3 days ago when I had just left hospital.


  • those ggt levels are not particlularly high given the amount of alcohol ingested-and if they are falling all the better-I agree with Mr x sounds like withdrawal symptoms-it'll take a while-the sweating is commonly reported-wasn't a big issue with me but it did occur...tale it easy!

  • Sorry: last drink (A LOT, sorry to say) was exactly one week ago.

    Tell me: did you find quite persistent and often profuse sweating, unrelated to room or outside temperature, to be a problem? I do - and it's also bad when I eat, especially hot food, or have hot drinks. It feels very, very uncomfortable.

  • the liver may be enlarged slightly (inflamed)which gives the uncomfortable feeling when eating hot food etc

  • Thanks, Mister X,

    Your answers are thoughtful and no longer than my posts and questions on this or other forums tend to be. Thanks for trying to explain and rationalise.

    I'm trying not to be over-dramatic and, no I don't currently have any symptoms like bloody, very pale or black faeces, dark urine, swollen abdomen or the like, but I honestly fear that every time I go to the loo, or clear my throat or blow my nose, I am going to bleed.

    I've just had something to eat. Everytime I do, and often out of the blue, I break-out in profuse sweats.

    I just can't account for the oddness of those symptoms I keep going-on about. That they developed, rapidly, within 24-48 hours of me drinking all that alcohol last Thursday and Friday is surely no coincidence.

    I should add that I am also taking quite a lot of prescribed medication and I suspect that several of those drugs are not helping my liver. I know that statins and anti-depressants in particular are bad for the liver (though I was on them all before I started drinking heavily).

    When you say my blood tests were normal, they weren't all normal. The AST and GGT enzymes were elevated (but under 100 and falling). But, yes, the rest were normal, or within normal ranges, including a test for clotting and also kidney function.

    I have no inclination to drink. It's just a pity I didn't feel that way 8 days ago - all of this now may have been avoided.

    Thanks again, Mister X.

  • Hi,

    Thanks for the kind words - very much appreciated.

    I don't for one minute doubt your sincerity and please understand I'm totally on your side. I'm not doubting for one minute that you are feeling very rough and having various symptoms. What I can't do is make a connection to liver damage. There may very well be a connection to liver inflammation but that isn't the same thing - and will ease off (in fact probably has given AST and GGT were falling)

    The AST and GGT rises were not high, taken after a huge binge, and started to rapidly fall once alcohol stopped. All other indicators normal. This is consistent with alcohol ingestion upsetting the liver, not of cirrhosis

    A lot of what you're describing is consistent with alcohol withdrawal - not all of it certainly but quite a bit of it. It's true that medications can be very hard on the liver - again though blood tests are normal - and you don't want that with the alcohol - but more often than not the damage they do to liver cells is at a level that the liver's repair system can cope with. It's a working system.

    If you're looking out for anything - very pale or very dark stools should be a cause for concern as far as liver problems are concerned. Small amounts of fresh blood less from nose or other end less so as they're not usually liver related. Large quantities of fresh blood should be of concern regardless.

    I can't add much to what I've said. I think you've had a warning. Keep an eye out for the next few days and make sure you eat and drink properly. More importantly start planning for how you're going to make the best of your life after this warning. I don't see any reason from what you've said to think it can't be long and healthy. And I hope it will be.


  • Hello again, Mister X,

    I'm back again because I've been keeping an eye on things.

    I felt really unwell on Friday evening, so much so that (don't laugh) I was worried that, if I lay-down and closed my eyes, I wouldn't wake-up again.

    Today (Saturday), I felt a bit more optimistic after going for a walk (7 miles) and completing it without any difficulty.

    Then I decided to have a bath, and that's when I felt bad again. I was shocked by how much my body hair density has reduced in a week. It was also 4 days since I had had a shave, but there wasn't 4 days of growth like I can remember just recently.

    Then I looked in the mirror, and realised that my belly/abdomen is bigger-looking now than it was a month ago when I was a stone HEAVIER.

    I am scared stiff.



  • Hello.


    1) Take a breath. Whatever situation you're better placed to deal with it if you can be considered in your approach.

    2) Hair Loss - Sudden. Is not uncommon, sudden loss of hair is normally due to what is called a trigger event - emotional or physical stress. It's not commonly associated with liver issues. I'm reluctant to get you reading more on the internet but the Mayo Clinic in the US has something on it here...

    "Sudden loosening of hair. A physical or emotional shock can cause hair to loosen. Handfuls of hair may come out when combing or washing your hair or even after gentle tugging. "

    3) Belly. Possibly bloating. You mentioned you've lost a load of weight recently? Well that would definitely make your belly show more when you get bloated. What I'm not expecting is that you've suddenly developed ascites in a few days with otherwise normal blood results and no other issues. In any event your GP can check for that - it's not the sort of symptom that needs instant attention - like sudden dark stools or a load of bleeding would for example.

    4) What you're saying sounds completely consistent with alcohol withdrawal to me. A 7 mile walk and then feeling horrible when you take a bath. It's early in the recovery process.

    5) Let me ask you a question - If last weekend you'd gone out for two nights and had the crap beaten out of you each night do you expect you'd be feeling fine a week later? No aches, no pains?

    What you did with the drinking was to basically beat the hell out of yourself - cell by cell - from the inside out. There are consequences.

    6) Having said all that - keep any eye out in case something else is up and make an appointment to discuss with the GP. Don't focus on how you feel minute by minute but day by day - you can't be just about to drop dead from liver failure and yet perfectly able to wander about for 7 miles.

    7) Do you have Netflix or access to some box sets? Pick something and start watching it - you need to take your mind off things at the moment. Right now your liver is working hard to repair the damage and regenerate cells - it's an amazing thing. Did you know that you can chop half the liver off and it will grow back within a matter of weeks? It's doing its job - and that may be where a lot of your energy is going, repairing damaged cells around your body. This will take weeks. I can recommend The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad was great. Homeland - let me know what you like and I'll make some suggestions.The remake of Battlestar Galactica was great. Netflix has a free 30 day trial..... House of Cards was excellent too. Or watch a load of old movies?

    I'll stop there. I think - seriously try and take your mind off it unless something happens that is an emergency and make an appointment to have a chat with your GP.


    PS In tone I'm aiming for firm, supportive and friendly I'm glad you're asking for advice here, that's what it's for.

  • PPS. You need a few weeks to recover (and watch some box sets), then on with your life. Think about what you're going to do to make the best of it. You may not be where you wanted to be by now but if you're not it doesn't matter - it's still a starting point to somewhere better. You just have to pick a destination and a route.

  • Thanks again for your time, Mister X.

    I was out for a couple of hours and just about to watch the international football highlights on TV, though my concentration is terrible.

    I am trying not to dwell - that was one of the reasons for seeing how I would do on the walk earlier. I was just saying to my dad a short time ago that, if all of these symptoms cleared-up, I could try to forget about this and move on (and, no, I don't mean in order to start binge drinking again).

    Now my lower back is aching. Of course, I'm thinking it's my kidneys (though I'm peeing normally). It's the way my mind is working right now.

    Some of the suspicious symptoms - like the burning red palms, worst of the bruising, itchiness and painful rash on the chest have improved. But others have not - like the profuse sweating (though I've had these for months) and the suddenly dark, leathery skin on the back of my hands (which only appeared last weekend).

    I accept that stress and trauma can cause hair to fall-out. Could alcohol poisoning affect hair density?

    I know the awful trauma I put my body through at the end of last week - I probably could have died. I'd done something similar (twice) last October, but my body hadn't endured months of abuse at that point. It was undoubtedly put-through more trauma on the way to hospital and once there to make sure I was OK.

    I have an appointment to see my regular GP on Monday afternoon. I don't plan on mentioning cirrhosis to him, but will try to let him ask the questions and draw his conclusions. I would obviously feel a LOT better if he did a physical exam and said everything felt normal.

    Thank you again for taking so much time to listen to and respond to my mithering. It really is very good of you.


  • Well not long until Monday so hang in until then. The hair loss could be a combination of stress - physical from the alcohol and emotional stress.

    I'd expect the various symptoms that are alcohol related to calm down over a few weeks.

    You will want to make a plan to stay off alcohol for the long term.

    Also important to give your body the tools to repair itself - make a point of eating properly, sleeping enough and getting a bit of exercise as you're able. Today sounded like a good positive sign - well done! - but don't overdo it just yet.

  • Hi Gavin

    Hope you're feeling a bit better this morning. Don't worry about the sweating, your body took a real battering a week ago, and will take a while to get back to normal. Also, panic will make you sweat especially as you're feeling so anxious.

    Try having a small amount to eat every 2 to 3 hours.

    Make a note of questions you want to ask doc on Monday.

    What meds are you actually on?

    Take care, Anne

  • Hi Anne,

    I am on quite a cocktail!

    Ramipril (for blood pressure);

    Simvastatin (for cholesterol - and I know these are not good for the liver);

    Omeprazole (for stomach acid);

    Trazodone (for depression - probably not great for liver);

    Quetiapine (mood stabilizer - not good for the liver);

    Temazepan (for insomnia).

    I felt really unwell yesterday evening in a strange sort of way - so unwell that I didn't want to close my eyes to sleep.

    I don't feel properly slept this morning - and also depressed and very pessimistic about life.

    I had a great life, which I probably took for granted, but I enjoyed simple things - now I am single, lonely, jobless, childless, mum in a nursing home, dad's health deteriorating, and now worried I have brought cirrohsis on myself.

    I don't know where to start to get out of this hole.

    You take care, too.


  • Hi

    Reading your reply I know it must be desperately difficult to stay positive. Please try - I am going to look up your meds. From what you say you are very much on your own, and nobody should be.

    Do you know what started your 2 day binge?

    Best Wishes, Anne

  • I think I was fed-up with (apparent) withdrawal symptoms from the last one on 1 August, especially profuse sweats and sleeping difficulty, anxieties, and each day just being like the last I'd only had a few glasses of wine, now and again, since 1 August.

    Of course, alcohol only "helps" while actually taking it.

    I'm just back from a 7 mile walk, there and back, along a converted old railway line, which is now like a nature track. Enjoyed it while doing the walk, and completed it with no difficulty.

  • Morning Gavin

    You certainly are on a med 'cocktail' - can you talk to Dr to find ways of reducing. I am not a medical doc but there could be some interaction going on and your liver does have to process these drugs. If it was me I would start with the statin- check out Dr. Malcolm Kendrick's website, some excellent blogs on statin use.

    By the way well done on your 7mile walk, and enjoying it - could you join a ramblers club and meet like minded people.

    Good luck on Monday, take your list of questions, and press for US scan.

    You are halfway through your life so look at today as the first day of that new life. You said you had it all once, you can again. A

  • Hi Anne,

    Thanks for your kind wishes.

    I have felt very tired, achy and off-colour today, but just took a couple of co-codamol and taking it that it is a bug.

    But, the bruising, skin-discolouration and red spots under the skin all seem to be continuing to fade. That leaves the hair-density to improve and I would feel a lot better about things.

    I was lying in bed earlier and contemplating where exactly I would begin to try to put things right. It's not at all easy, as mental scars are hard to sort-out.

    But I'll have to start somewhere.

    Gavin. x

  • Don't try too hard to put everything right at once, it's not possible. I think you should concentrate on getting your health back on track.

    Let me know how you get on tomorrow, but don't expect miracles, doctors are human beings and don't have magic wands, but hopefully will try and put you on right path.

    I personally don't think you have done major damage to your liver, just upset it a bit!!!

    Take care, Anne

  • Not a lot I can add to Mister X's excellent replies.

    I myself have been having undiagnosed symptoms since Oct 2011. I think some are definite signs of Liver Failure (episodes of encephalopathy), but the doctors thus far aren't diagnosing anything. Blood tests have all been in range, however, an enlarged Liver was shown on CT in early 2012.

    The point I'm making is that until the signs are indisputable, the medics won't diagnose.

    All you can do is diarise your symptoms & if they continue, go back to the GP every 12 months (if not 6) for a full blood run. This is what I'm currently doing even though the GP thinks I'm a hypochondriac. Obviously, if your symptoms suddenly really deteriorate, off to the GP!

    Anyway, bottom line is: your body is not happy about something, so stop the drinking, and ideally, as many of the meds as you feel able to. Your body is telling you it needs a break.

    There are other ways to help stress and anxiety, than booze and tablets : become a gym bunny like me. Start off with a gentle country walk, smell the flowers, feel good to be alive and build up from there.

    Good luck :)

  • Hi, thanks for that.

    I fear my two day, two large bottles of spirits binge last Thursday and Friday crossed the line from an unhappy liver to a cirrohtic one. (The last time I drank so much was in the last week of July/1 August.)

    I have just had a bath. I have significantly less dense body (and head) hair than I did the last time I had a bath. It is really quite noticeable.

    I have also lost about a stone in weight (from 15st 7lb to 14st 7lb) in the past 3 weeks, yet my belly seems just as big and flabbier/more wobbly

    I'm also convinced that my genitals feel different (and not in a good way).

    I think I was lulled into a false sense of security by my 'good' liver function tests in mid-August which showed the AST back to normal and the GGT down from 121 to 72.

    I am devastated and so, so angry with myself.


  • Ok. You need to take a deep breath & quit the negative thinking or your anxiety levels will run riot.

    Taking your points in order:

    Drinking. I was drinking more than you & a lot more frequently. Probably 140 units a week at my peak easily. Not saying that means you have no liver damage as a result of drinking as everybody's tolerance is different, just giving that information for some perspective here.

    If you have obvious signs of hair loss in places where it is conspicuous, such as your head, show a couple of "before and after" pics to your GP and ask for comments.

    Weight loss. By your own admission your anxiety levels are currently high. Anxiety affects diet & appetite. That would/could explain a sudden loss of weight. I lost two stone pretty quickly when my symptoms began, through associated anxiety.

    Genitals. Assuming you have no "before and after" pics (lol) all you can do is articulate your concerns/observations as best you can & see what your GP thinks.

    Bloods. When bloods are going in the right direction it is good news. Stay completely off the booze, eat well & exercise & see where your bloods are in 6-12 months time.

  • "I fear my two day, two large bottles of spirits binge last Thursday and Friday crossed the line from an unhappy liver to a cirrhotic one"

    No it doesn't work like that. You'd die of alcohol poisoning well before your liver became cirrhotic by that method. Again you're confusing inflammation with damage - they are not the same thing at all. You very likely inflammed your liver and it's not happy about it but then with that amount of alcohol you've essentially given yourself an internal all around beating - all the other systems need time to recover. Ironically the liver will recover fastest because it's designed to regenerate and repair itself quickly. Other organs take a lot longer.

  • Hi Mister X,

    I missed this reply from you until later.

    I know from the last time I was with the GP, when he showed me historic liver function enzyme results (I'm 99% sure the two he showed me were AST and GGT) that these were always low (in the 20s and 30s) until a year ago, when they both started to increase, and both have been a lot higher (generally) over the past year. (I've had LFTs done for many years because I take a statin.)

    So, my worry is that damage has gradually been being done over the past year, but this has been accelerating as my drinking worsened over the summer and with the two binges in August.

    Even if my liver does come out the other end of this OK, yes, I am also worried about what I've done to other parts of my body. I am on blood pressure and statin medication as it is, so I'm sure I haven't done my heart and circulation any good with my year-long drink problem.


  • Yes but those measures rise when you're consuming more alcohol than you should, so that would be to be expected. Additionally you may be seeing some evidence of fat infiltration of the liver - which excessive drinking will cause - but that reverses itself once you stop drinking.

    The other things you're concerned about will also be helped by stopping drinking and getting healthy.

    Did you decide to watch anything? I was serious about the box sets - it's a really good way to get absorbed into something for a few days....

  • I watched the international football highlights and some stuff on Sky News.

    I've terrible concentration for dramas and the like - this pre-dates my liver concerns. The alcohol won't have helped with that either.

    Hope you have a good-night, I daresay we might chat on Sunday. All the best!


  • Well, I think I've had a bit of a bug today, nothing to do with what's been going on over the past week, but some of those nasty physical symptoms seem to be continuing to resolve - namely the various bruising, red spots under the skin and the dark skin on the backs of my hands. All of these look like they're continuing to fade.

    To be honest, I'm not sure about my abdomen - it looks flabby, but isn't sore or anything.

    That leaves the hair-density - hopefully that won't get any worse and will start to improve, too.

    I see the GP tomorrow afternoon. I'm sure that, having told me in July to cut-out the binges, he'll not be impressed and (rightly) be even more resolute now.


  • Well that sounds like good news.

    Keep doing all the right things. Your GP may well say "I told you so" but then you know you deserve it so it's a fair cop really - and at least you're here to hear it.

    More importantly if he agrees that this was a warning to you, take the next few weeks to recover but then prepare yourself to get your life sorted and on an evil keel.

    Have a good night.

  • An "evil keel"!!! A Freudian slip, if ever I saw one! I know what you meant, Mister X.

    I'm eating lots of fruit and vegetables and lean meat, and drinking lots of water, fruit and vegetable juices to try to nourish and refresh myself. Plus, of course, B-vitamins, especially Thiamine (I never realised how important Thiamine was until I looked-up what can happen if you're badly deficient in it.)

    I still can't be sure I'm out of the woods, such was the suddenness of those strange, unpleasant symptoms, and of course I haven't actually seen or been examined by the doctor yet.

    I also have a letter to give him from the hospital, which I have not read, which I'm sure won't make great reading. He's absolutely entitled to say "I told you so".

    But, my body looks considerably better than it did this time last week when it really looked like I'd been burned or poisoned - which, of course, I had been.

    Thanks for all your advice, education and, where appropriate, reassurance, Mister X.


  • Well, I had a long consultation with the GP this afternoon.

    I talked to him about what had happened 9-10 days ago and about the strange, unpleasant symptoms that quickly developed in hospital.

    We then went through the blood tests together.

    I can't remember the exact figures, but the AST and GGT were both about 100 on 29 August and were both in the 60s two days later.

    He didn't seem unduly concerned, but said he didn't want to minimise the damage I would be doing if the occasional binges continued. He said he had often seen GGTs over 1,000, and mine wasn't that high (for someone who had had so much to drink in a short space of time), but the elevated AST indicated that my liver was irritated by the occasional very heavy binges, and they had to stop because, if they did not, I WOULD probably have a lasting liver problem in 2-3 years.

    He felt that the occasional very heavy alcohol consumption was having an impact on my nervous system, and that is why I have been having lots of sweating and brain fog. He put the rest of the unpleasant symptoms down to acute, excessive alcohol ingestion.

    I asked him about a physical exam or scans, and he said they were not necessary.

    He felt it was a bit early to repeat the blood tests today, so I am to totally abstain from alcohol and go back to the surgery in two weeks' time to get all of the blood tests repeated.

    So, basically, he assured me that I do not have cirrhosis or hepatitis, but I have to get on top of the drinking.

    I guess I am reassured - if only I actually felt physically OK, rather than this vague feeling of being unwell ....

  • ....I'm afraid you rather deserve the rather vague feeling of being unwell :)

    In all seriousness though, you're going to have that for a bit - as I said you've given a load of the cells in your body a really good thrashing. It will take a while for them to recover.

    Otherwise this is very good news for you - I'm very pleased. What the Dr said makes perfect sense to me. It's now very much up to you to make sure his worst predictions don't turn out to be true. In regards to the drinking, try and get off it if you can - you'll be happier in the long run - if not, look at the guidelines and understand what they really mean.

    You're in a fortunate position, I know you know but do take a moment to think about what this has been like for you and take it from someone who knows - what you've been through is a cakewalk compared to the real thing. You don't ever want to go there, and I hope you never will.

    Other than that, congratulations. I'm very pleased for you and you must be relieved. Remember it will take several weeks for you to recover fully but now at least you can look forward to moving on with your life and making the most of it. I sincerely hope you do - it's never too late.

    Best of luck.

  • You're very kind and thoughtful, Mister X.

    I don't think my GP could really envisage how awful my body looked this time last week - large parts of it looked as if I had been beaten-up, some parts looked-like it had been burnt, other places had rashes, my hair was frazzled, etc, etc - all apparently due to a LEGAL drug taken to excess.

    I'm frankly amazed at how well its look has recovered, even if I still don't feel well (and, yes, I understand why that is).

    There was one other very mildly out-of-range test result, concerned with clotting which I think he felt explained the bruising, but he said it was nothing to worry about.

    I was completely honest with my doctor about my recent drinking in general and 9-10 days ago in particular, but didn't bring-up the subject of future drinking today - it was the GP who did that.

    He said my liver was irritated by and sensitive to the bingeing, in the way it would not be with just a couple of pints, indicated by the AST elevation. He said that other people - even with very high GGTs - do NOT see much, if any, AST elevation, as their livers aren't so sensitive - but mine is. He urged me to get back in-touch with Addictions' people to help me to stay abstinent or at least keep my drinking under control the way I used to.

    I'm still hyper-sensitive to every twinge, it'll take a wee-while for me to get out of that habit. The better I feel, the more easily I'll be able to do that.

  • I should have asked the doctor this yesterday, but any thoughts as to when you think I might regain my energy?

    Apart from this horrible brain-fog, I don't feel refreshed by sleep and am totally lacking in energy.

    I am still convinced that I have harmed my liver in some way and that it is not working properly and/or other organs are now not working properly as a result of these binges.

    All of the visible physical symptoms now appear to have gone, but I just don't feel well.

    I am drinking plenty of water and juices and trying to eat well and get plenty of sleep (I need Temazepam for that).

    I want to get back back working or studying, but there's no way I could hold-down either of those things at the moment.

    Sorry to be a pain ....

  • Well I'd expect that you're going to feel a bit rough for several weeks.

    Part of the reason for feeling tired could well be that your nutritional intake is being diverted to repair the various cells in your body damaged from the alcohol and partly because the whole thing has depressed you a bit (a lot). Also all those cells that you're relying on to help you be perky - have been damaged by the alcohol - so their ability to respond to your wishes will be affected.

    Also on the subject of sleep if you're interested you may find this thread interesting. I explain (at length I'm afraid) the melatonin/serotonin cycle and why it's important to sleep in a darkened room

    Also be careful drinking lots of juices - you're better off with the actual fruits. Fruit juices are high in sugars and so will spike your blood glucose which will then crash disproportionately quickly.

    As for the rest of your post I'm afraid I can't offer much help. You've not presented any evidence that would convince me that you have a liver issue - and it's really not something to be done over the net anyway - but you just seem to have decided it. IF you can't move on you may benefit from going back to your GP or finding another GP.

    Best of luck.

  • Thanks, Mister X.

    I really don't know what to do. I feel physically awful.

  • Actually Gavin you do know what to do....

    "He felt it was a bit early to repeat the blood tests today, so I am to totally abstain from alcohol and go back to the surgery in two weeks' time to get all of the blood tests repeated.

    So, basically, he assured me that I do not have cirrhosis or hepatitis, but I have to get on top of the drinking."

    That and eat healthily and try to get some exercise and try to wait it out. I was very serious about watching tv or find some books to read. If not that then see if you can get out of the house for a few hours a day - perhaps volunteer somewhere for a bit? You need some sort of displacement activity to take your mind off things.

    Right now your issues are the hammering your body (not your liver) took from the alcohol, your alcohol withdrawal symptoms and obsessing about it.

  • I know I am obsessing about it, it's my nature unfortunately. I went out earlier, felt even worse (and not comfortable behind the wheel, either) and came home.

    I'm also beating myself up, which isn't helpful either.

  • My anxiety levels are already running-riot.

    Within 24-48 hours of going into hospital at the end of last week, I suddenly had the following:

    - painful and very conspicuous raised red rash on my chest;

    - a spider naevus on my red arm;

    - a patch of hair just fell off my left arm (it's still bald);

    - hair-thinning throughout my body;

    - stinging red palms;

    - darkening of skin on backs of hands and genitals;

    - extensive bruising;

    - joint pain;

    - fatigue.

    Some of the above has since improved, but now I am convinced that my abdomen feels full. As I said previously, I have lost a stone in the past 3 weeks, yet my belly looks and feels bigger.

    I'm going to reply again to Mister X in the above vein because he suggested I should note my symptoms if they changed/worsened - and the abdominal fullness is certainly a change for the worse.



  • Have them check your ammonia levels and PT levels

  • The GP told me on Monday that all of the results in the liver function tests, full blood count and clotting tests were within the normal ranges, except for the AST and GGT enzymes which were both about 100 on 29 August, and then in the 60s on 31 August.

  • I had an ultrasound earlier today - it's not good news.

    Time for a new thread.


  • Hi to GavBelfast

    Didn't get to see how old your posts are but to let you know that I know quite a lot about liver disease,because I DO have Cirrhosis and believe me,you don't want to get this nor have it,especially if you drink,if you have stopped drinking great,your liver will heal,as from your tests you had there is no scarring of your liver.

    Its a slow painful death cirrhosis but these days you can live many many years with a good diet,exercise and no drinking of course.

    Gamma Gt is indicative of alcohol consumption and drs are guided by that,occasionally.. but your other tests show no further stage problems with liver, but you describe palymer eyrether(so) and spider nevi,and end stage liver complications but usually when it gets there you swell up like 9 months pregnant,have to be drained all the fluid in you,its horrible you can't breathe sucks and hepatic enphalapathy where you have confusion, then you get like a dementia type illness,and also you vomit blood and you have to race to hospital or you will die that's called bleeding varices,and is so serious.....I do not wish any of this on to you,or for sake of a few more drinks..truly.

    I have had cirohsis 15 months now and have lost all my muscle tone,heaps of weight I have lost so much don't tend to lose their hair but their breasts swell etc...horriblele,horrible way to die...I have lost several friends this way and im heading down that highway.....

    All the best,as cirrhosis no picnic at all


  • Hi Ziggysmum,

    Thanks for your post.

    All of my posts on this forum are from the past month or so, since I have been very concerned about the condition of my liver. I am still VERY concerned that I have developed cirrhosis.

    I started drinking heavily due to depression, anxiety and insomnia in August 2014. I would say I was averaging about a box (2.25 litres) of wine and 1 large bottle (1 litre) of spirits each week. I then reverted to generally moderate drinking from November 2014 to February this year, but then started drinking heavily again in March this year, through to August.

    In all this time, I have also been on several prescribed medications, some of which are not liver-friendly. I think the combination of them and excessive alcohol has not been a good mix.

    My liver function tests have shown raised enzymes since June this year. However, my most recent liver function test before that was in November 2014, when everything was in the normal range. My albumin, bilirubin, clotting time and platelets have all been normal in every blood test.

    I had an ultrasound on September 10th and it showed a fatty liver. Since August, I have been feeling tired, a bit weak and have had a poor appetite. I have lost over a stone in weight over the past 6 weeks. My head, facial and body hair are thinner than they were just a few weeks ago.

    Various doctors have told me that I do not have cirrhosis, but they are only going on blood tests. They all say that I "only" have a fatty liver. But I wonder what the fat could be concealing? I also worry that my raised enzymes in the various tests have not been that high, indicating that my liver function is already much reduced, with not many healthy cells left to leak enzymes into the bloodstream.

    I am so very, very scared.

    Take care.


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