Please help what does it mean if enzymes are too high due to alcohol

I really need advice about my husband. He's had a liver test that showed his AST and ALT levels were raised particularly ALT which dr said was caused by alcohol. She's told him to change his lifestyle, lose weight and cut down on his drinking. He's put about 3 stone on in last couple of years mostly down to drinking. However he exercises a lot. Would that help?

What does this mean though? Has he got liver disease? Will he be able to reverse it with diet change and less alcohol.

I would be grateful for any thoughts/advice you can give me. I'm so scared and worried as I don't know what all this means

13 Replies

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  • The doctor has given what sounds like the right diagnosis and the right cure. If liver damage is caused by alcohol, diet or other lifestyle choices there is no pill for this. The cure is in your husbands hands. If he takes the doctors advice on board he should get better. If he doesn't take the doctors advice he will most likely get worse. Do you know what your husband plans to do about lifestyle changes?

  • Thanks so much for your reply. I've got him some supplements like vitamin c, liver support and antioxidants and alpha lipoic acid. He's a vegetarian but eats fish so less fatty foods and more fish,veg and fruit. More importantly he's going to cut down on alcohol. I'd rather he stopped completely but that wouldn't happen. Rather than go to the pub 4/5 nights a week,he's going to try and go twice. Will this make any difference? If he drank still but much less could he correct any damage or at least bring the enzymes down? He's not outwardly ill in any way and feels fine so what kind of things should I look for that might show he's becoming ill.

  • just a quick one on diets/supplements etc. The main thing to avoid is alcohol and sugary drinks-so no coca cola etc. by all means go for low fat but that's not the main issue at this stage. Having a pescaterian diet is probably a good thing.

  • hi welcome-yes concur with Bolly as usual. Carrying too much weight plus drinking too much is a potent mix and tends to worsen any liver issues.

    Suggest he adopts the new guidelines on drinking sooner rather than later. At the very least he's probably got fatty liver. It can be turned around with diet and abstinence but suggest he sees this as a wake up call and makes ome lifestyle changes. I'm assuming no symptoms as yet? digestive issues etc. If you want to look at what happens if you dont make changes check my post on GGT out from a couple of years back.

    BTw if the drinking stops and the exercise continues the weight will fall off.

    cheers

  • also back in December I posted about an old friend of mine who suffered liver failure late last year through years of drinking-he had cirrhosis. He died this morning, Treat this as a wake up call. Dont panic though...it can be reversed.

    regards

    K

  • I'm really sorry about the loss of your friend today. Thank you for replying. He's making a big effort to eat only fresh food and fish which will happen as I'll make it. I've got him some liver supplements to take as well. You're right he has no symptoms at all and must treat it as a kick up the backside to sort himself out. It'll be unrealistic to think he won't drink at all, he'll go to the pub couple times a week and have 4 or 5 pints. Nut that's so much better than he has been. The night before his liver test he had a lot to drink. Would this make a big difference to the reading?

  • I am very sorry for your loss :(

  • very kind of you Rachel-I'm more concerned for his daughter really -a sad waste

  • I'm certain it will. the revised guidelines are 14 units a week with 2-3 alcohol free days.

    2 nights down the pub should be ok but beware of bingeing more than 6 units in a session. No-he should be fine with changes-take a look again at bloods in 6 weeks. Btw my bloods were always fine other than GGT enzymes.

    Thnx re my friend. He would be still here but he continued to drink with cirrhosis-he'd had jaundice for years. He was a very nice bloke but couldnt stop drinking-lost his wife through it-absolutely stupid.....and an absolute shame.

    keep us posted-nice to hear success stories not just the one I've just posted!

    regards

  • Without knowing what his ALT / AST levels are above normal it's difficult to say how much his liver is inflamed at the moment, but clearly enough to make the GP give him advice about lifestyle changes.

    The liver is amazing at compensating for all the crap we throw at it over the years, so he probably isn't showing any outward signs, but his blood tests are.

    He has given his liver a double whammy, first the drinking and now the extra weight. He needs to address both or the inflammation will continue and progress to fibrosis and then cirrhosis possibly.

    Giving him supplements will do nothing unless he addresses the drinking and the weight, in fact while his liver is inflamed giving him supplements is just giving his liver more to do, not less.

    Stop the supplements.

    Stop the alcohol until his enzymes return to normal and then resume it within guidelines.

    Address the nutrition and shift that 3 stone.

    Going to the doc was the first step in him improving his health but it is just the start.

  • Hi

    There aren't any symptoms to liver disease in the early stages therefore no warnings. If he is starting to get deranged blood liver function tests especially ALT this shows the liver is becoming inflamed causing damage you need to take notice of this because believe me you can cross over from deranged tests to serious irreversible liver damage very quickly and without knowing. Best not to kid yourselves and take this as a serious wake up call. I doubt if he would be able to get a fibroscan on the NHS at this stage but if you could afford it privately ( about £200) personally I would get one done, this tests measures for scarring. Just so you know where you are along the line of liver disease if any. I would definately say stop drinking I know that may seem extreme but just until you know the extent of the damage. Good luck wish you all the best. Xx

  • I would not say that alcohol is the only reason that ALT and AST rise.

    I have elevated levels and I drink very, very rarely and at most a glass or two (maybe 2 or 3 times a month.

    If he does drink then that may be the cause and even if it isn't he should still cut down to protect his liver function.

    I don't have a diagnosis yet as my doctor is looking into the reasons my levels are high.

    My mother has non alcoholic fatty liver disease and elevated AST and ALT due to Lupus, this is another cause for high enzymes, my doctor also mentioned that chronic inflammation and auto-immune diseases elevate the levels.

    This is all I know about that.

    Good luck!

  • I have re-read your post and you say he drinks 4 to 5 times a week. This is far too much and probably the cause of his liver injury.

    Does the NHS provide counseling/help for reducing his alcohol intake?

    My grandfather drank a glass of whiskey every evening and a glass of wine once in a while and died from liver cancer. Liver cancer is almost entirely linked to excessive alcohol consumption. The alcohol leads to inflammation, cirrhosis and then cancer. If he stops now before he has irreversible cirrhosis he can change his life course.

    I wish you luck in dealing with this, it is very hard to convince someone to change a habit, reducing alcohol intake is not easy. My own sister's husband drink way to frequently and refuses to reduce, refuses to admit to his problem so I know how hard it must be for you.

    The best of luck!

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