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British Liver Trust
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New Health Concerns Alcoholic Cirrhosis

Hi everyone. I just have a question. My husband who was diagnosed 18 months ago with Cirrhosis has recently voiced a couple of health complaints. He has said that it feels like his esophagus has been burnt? Hurts like it is on fire. He has also stated that he has been up during the night with horrible stomach and diarrhea. He is out of town working so I have no way of telling how bad these are. He has been gone for just about three months and has continued to drink while away. Are these issues arising due to his cirrhosis or am I imagining things. I have days where I think he will be okay and days where I think that every little complaint is related to his diagnosis.

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The oesophageal burning sensation could perhaps be signs that he is developing issues with portal hypertension. In the run up to my hubby being diagnosed with cirrhosis he was having horrendous issues with acid reflux and heartburn which would see him bent double in absolute agony. During his first endoscopy it was discovered that he had suffered both stomach and oesophageal damage due to portal hypertension (portal hypertensive gastropathy) as well as burst varices. These symptoms need to be mentioned to your husbands consultant and may need investigation via endoscopy. Unfortunately, your husband is going to get gradually ever more poorly with more symptoms developing if he continues to drink alcohol with already known cirrhosis & if he does develop more serious symptoms he will find it very difficult to get treatment and impossible to get a transplant.

Katie

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Thank you for your response. When he was first sick had tests done that showed his portal vein was enlarged, pancreas enlarged and spleen. This is what led to further tests proving he had cirrhosis. He had stopped drinking for 8 months so I am assuming that may have corrected the previous issues? I am guessing that since he has been drinking again for about 10 months that he is headed in that same direction. He does have a specialist but has not been to him in about a yr due to working out of the province. It is really hard to sit on the side lines when you have tried to get him to understand the depth of his illness. It gets harder and harder to support someone that is not interested in getting help with his illness. I know that might sound really selfish but I am just getting run down and tired of the situation. There seems to be only so much that I can do.

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It must be really difficult to watch someone almost in self destruct or denial about how bad the situation is.

My hubbies condition is due to auto-immune liver issues (he's been t-total for life). By the time his situation was discovered he already had cirrhosis and he never had any warning or ability to help his situation. He would have done anything to prevent the situation he now finds himself in.

Sadly once the liver has reached cirrhosis just giving it a break from alcohol isn't enough and it needs to be a complete cessation. At earlier stages of liver disease you can reverse the damage however a resumption of drinking will always bring back the condition and continuing to assault the damaged liver is only going to make it gradually get worse and worse.

Have you seen the British Liver Trust page about cirrhosis? There is also a downloadable leaflet about the condition and its symptoms and stages and the whole BLT page is a goldmine of information. There is also a page all about alcohol and the liver.

britishlivertrust.org.uk/li...

britishlivertrust.org.uk/li...

I take it you are not in the UK from you saying hubby is working out of province. You need to look after yourself in all this too, in the UK we have agencies like Al-Anon which supports the families of those affected by alcohol issues - maybe there is something similar near you.

Hope you get hubby to see sense before it really does become too late, a check on his oesophagus and stomach lining do sound rather over due.

Best wishes.

Katie

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Thank you once again your information is terrific. Yes I am not from the UK. I am from Alberta, Canada. They require you to be 6 months abstinent from alcohol as well. I will definitely have a look at those sites.

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I know how you feel. It's completely exhausting. If he's not interested in looking after his health be sure to look after yours. You need all the strength you can have to get you through the c**p ! X

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There is only so much you can do.

As Katie has mentioned he already has cirrhosis, so to start back on the drink is going to make things so much worse. Why did he turn back after 8 months of sobriety. I hope things get sorted for both of you.

Linda x

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Thank you. He suffers from depression and has had a couple of hospital stays each for about 6mths in duration. Have went to counselling with him and without. He has never dealt with those issues so my best bet is he drinks to mask his depression. He has told me as much. Even when he was in hospital for depression he was able to go out during the day and would meet his friends at the pub across the street. He was even allowed to come home on the weekends where he would drink himself into oblivion. I would tell the doctors what he was doing and he convinced them otherwise. It seems that no professionals want to help him because he has no intention of helping himself. Just at a loss

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Sadly, medical professionals only have so much time and resources and if someone is continuing to be non-compliant with care and treatment (such as drinking with known cirrhosis) their patience will run out. In the UK even to get an assessment for transplant a patient has to be 6 months abstinent often with a compulsory commitment to counselling or similar, drinking whilst listed for transplant results in the patient 'being struck off the list'.

I always feel for yourself and those like you whose loved one is yet to realise their situation. We do have members here though who have hit that rock bottom situation and realised in time that they need to do something or else and have successfully gone on to transplant and happy, sober post-transplant lives.

Do look after yourself as I said in my other reply.

Katie x

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I am going to my GP in two weeks to seek out a therapist. Thank you

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How sad. I had depression but was never admitted, i am still on sertraline but due for review soon. Dont get me wrong, i am no saint. I went 3 yrs sober untill my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I became his full time carer as i lost my mum at an early age to heart failure.cut a long story short i could not cope after he passed. My anxiety levels were on a complete high that i could not bring down and losing him is the most devastating thing i have endured.. so i picked up the drink ..2 years on non stop drinking and hiding away untill the old symptoms returned. Boy was i suffering.. after 2 yrs counselling with Aquarius and CBT i am.now in a good place so to speak. I hope you can get some help.. xx

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Why does he not understand that alcohol CAUSES depression not cures it? Alcohol creates problems it doesn't solve them. There are absolutely no benefits to drinking. Look at all the illnesses it causes. Look how many of us on here alone have lost family members because of it. There are thousands more out there. It feels like we, the carers, the spouces and widows are banging our heads on brick walls. I completely understand your frustration

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Thank you

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It could be acid reflux which can be caused by a slight gluten allergy. It may just need gaviscon or drink plenty of milk. But get it checked out at the docs to be sure

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Uh, everything I've read regarding acid reflux recommends avoiding dairy products. The stomach is triggered to produce more* acid to counter the temporary effect of "coating" the stomach-

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Well milk was recommended to my Dad when he was suffering with it but then he didn't have an alcohol problem to deal with as well. Reading stuff on the Internet isn't always a good idea as there are always conflicting views. I'd always recommend seeing the Doctor

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I was in the same situation as your husband. Fortunately I stopped when I was diagnosed with cirrhosis and liver cancer. Saved with only 48 hours left with a transplant. I suffered from depression too which caused me to drink too much and led to my condition. He definitely has cirrhosis as per the symptoms you describe. By continuing to drink he is effectively speeding up the process of reaching liver failure and death. Drinking just amplifies the symptoms, pain and speeds you towards liver failure which is ultimately how cirrhosis causes death. The worst thing is if they see him drinking then he won’t be considered for a live saving transplant. It’s very difficult to beat depression and the alcohol dependency it generates but there is lots of good help out there and hopefully if he gets the right help and stops drinking he can get better soon. Good luck ☘️

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I think your husband is in need of an endoscopy to try and understand the cause of this. It could be just acid reflux, or an hiatus hernia, or like Katie has pointed out, liver related. But I would assume that the endoscopy would be the first port of call, just rule out other causes.

Try not to worry, sometimes we all look at a worse case scenario.

Good luck, and please keep us posted.

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