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British Liver Trust
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Some honest advice please

My question; is it likely I have unreversible liver disease or cirrhosis?

Hi, for those of you have seen my other posts you will know I’m getting very anxious about the prospect of liver disease and life changing outcomes as a result after 20ish years of drinking more than I should.

I have had 2 liver tests and an ultrasound all of which have been clear but I have had a pain in my upper right quadrant for years that seems to be getting gradually worse and nearly constant, even after 6 weeks of abstinence.

Alcohol, coffee and some food seem to make the pain worse but it is hit and miss.

I am going through a diagnosis process for some odd thyroid results and have a few red blood vessel patches on my face (not the spider ones) but other than that I am relatively healthy and go to the gym most day and eat a healthy-ish diet.

I would really appreciate your thoughts as I’m going out of my mind with worry.

Thanks

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Have you had a scan for gallstones as that causes upper right quadrant pain and worse after eating. just a thought.

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Hi Grace, I did have a scan on my gallbladder which was clear although I read that it could be sludge that wouldn’t be seen and that coffee can make it worse but not alcohol.

I just wish I could get to the bottom of this once and for all.

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Damage to the liver doesn't generally reveal itself by inflicting pain so I'd delve deeper into the root cause of that first. If your tests are fine then treat this as the arbiter. Try not to drink again, mate and I'm sure you'll be fine.

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Thanks Wabb11, good advice on all fronts. To be honest I don’t miss drinking on a day to day basis much, it is more the longer term thought of not drinking that scares me a little!

I have probably had a handful of drinks in the last few months and nothing in the last 6 so it should hopefully start paying off soon

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I know what you're going through. I drank like a lunatic from 19 to 35 with few breaks. Stopped in October last year cause I was really I'll but the urge is still there sometimes. Just tonight I've had some bad news and my first thought was WINE! but I've resisted. Gimme a shout if you need any encouragement.

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Thanks Wabb, really good to hear from you and thanks for sharing your experience.

I will stick with it and hope my Dr can sort it quick so I know one way or the other.

One sure is for sure though - I shall not be assaulting my liver again like I have in the past...

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Hi. After drinking more than you should for 20 years, any damage you may have done to your liver will not show signs of healing after just 6 weeks of abstinence. This could be why you are still experiencing symtoms. It has to be a lifelong commitment.

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Thanks but that wasn’t my question.

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No one here is medically qualified to answer your question or make an acurate diagnosis you need to see a specialist for that. But if you want to stop worrying about whether or not you have irreversible liver disease or cirrhosis then continue to stay off the booze. You've managed for 6 weeks so far....well done for that, your liver will be very grateful and over time could repair itself.

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If your tests and scans are clear then, in my view, your are not likely to have un-reversible liver damage. If you had cirrhosis or significant liver damage something would have shown up.

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Thank you Kristian, that is really what I’m hoping for. Such a worrying time - I am sure you know about that.

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Hi

If your bloods are within range and scans are showing nothing sinister then you really should be ok,your obviously worried regards pain we all would be and something is causing it other than liver problems but alcohol effects all organs not just liver as do different foods you say (even after 6 weeks)of no alcohol but 6 weeks although good really isn’t enough as alcohol can take 3months or more to completely clear your system and as your so concerned regards the amount you’ve drank in the past maybe completely stopping will help you feel less anxious in a perfect world the odd glass of wine is fine but only you know if it is the odd glass I’ve had a transplant and although mine wasn’t alcohol related and I could have the occasional drink I know it would worry me so I don’t.I think I read that you do a lot of excercise which is a big plus could you possibly ease up on that aswell for a few weeks and see if it’s muscular.

Hope you get to the bottom of it soon

Huw

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Thanks 1football, makes sense. I wasn’t expecting to be cured in 6 weeks my point was more that the pain is getting worse.

I have been taking nexium because of heartburn and stopped that because I am worried that it is putting the liver under more strain

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Hi, you mention heartburn. Gastric issues can cause pain/discomfort on both sides as well as the middle. It could be gastric, especially the coffee. I have these issues and coffee sometimes hurts. The Nexium can also hurt. Have you had a go at probiotics, in particular Kefir. It has made a huge difference for me. You sound as though you are doing all the right things. Maybe your gut flora is out of sinc.

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Thanks sunnysmile, your message made me smile - I really hope it is gastric and not liver. And your probiotic idea sounds like a good one and I’ll definitely try it.

I had a wrap from Nando’s for lunch (which I thought would be healthy) and got the pain about 30 mins after. Turns out it contained a fair bit of fat (16g) so maybe that triggered it...

Who knows?!

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Oh yeah, a Nandos would give me the the heebie geebies for sure. Sounding gastric to me.

G.

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I am in my late 20s and draft for near 5 years, thought same thing but I am all clear. My mom drank for 20 years and is healthy as an ox. Truth be told alcohol irritates everything, gallbladder, liver, digestive tract, pancreas, spleen you name it. I have discomfort on my right side and have been cleared by 4 doctors saying I dont have liver problems but still feel discomfort up there near the galbladder. Perhaps change your diet? Coffee is acidic. Theres also a condition called a "leaky gut" what your are describing is not all cut and dried but if your not jaundice and still able to hit the gym, in my opinon portal hypertension probably not the cause.

Cut all alcohol it irritates EVERYTHING. If you live near a liquor store, sell your house move away, get some new friends, whatever you have to do, it doesnt just ** with your liver it messes with EVERYTHING, including neurological (its a depressant)

I have those blood vessel things too, not spider ones, doctor didnt blink an eye. I had more bloodwork done yesterday and have pain on my right side near gallbladder, digestive disturbances. Im done gettig blood work done, it appears I didnt do any life threatening damage drinking for several year.

Simple analogy here man - If you ant things in your life to change, your going to have to change things in your life. Diet, no drinking, doing what makes you joyful. Go up for an intro flight in a small aircraft. Im done worrying about my health even thought the paid still there oh well.

Gallstones are a concern obviously but thats not life threatening, they happen to everyone you just have to talk to your doctor to their opinion.

Dr google will drive you crazy and steal your joy. Best of luck to you and wish you the best. Test come back clear including full panel bloodwork its hard for the doctors to do much unless you have major physical signs. Clean up your health with includes no alcohol permanently I believe you will live long healthy life. Junk food may not be worse than alcohol but is also a huge health factor.

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Ahhhh man, that is such a cool message - thank you.

Just what the Dr ordered!

Cheers and take care.

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When people say liver tests cleared I assume they mean that their blood work has come back in normal ranges. Which I tend to want to remind them that even people with full blown cirrhosis can have liver function tests return normal. Especially if they are abstaining from alcohol. Also an ultrasound will not show fibrosis for the most part making it a not very sensitive test. My liver tests are all normal and my ultrasound shows nothing worth noting yet I have end stage liver disease. SO In short yea you could definately have irreversible liver damage after drinking in excess for 20 years. Most alcoholic cirrhotics have that history of drinking. HOWEVER that doesnt mean you do have irreversible damage. Id find it odd if you had no damage in my personnal opinion after 20 years of drinking in excess.

Bottom line is only a Dr can diagnose it and there are way more sensitive tests for sorting it out than a blood panel and an ultrasound. (Though those being "clear" are good.) fibroscan and a biopsy in combination seems to be the only difinitive way. As either one on there own can be false up or down. But a fibroscqn and a biopsy both shwoing cirrhosis. Its bloody likely cirrhosis .

Good luck and keep the spirits up

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Thanks I really appreciate your views and time to reply.

It is pretty scary to read and you are probably right but if everyone who drank to excess for 20 years had liver damage then 80%+ of my friends, family and colleagues would have it.

I will carry on abstaining and bugging my Dr until I find something definitive

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Cirrhosis doesnt happen to every one. Some never develop it. It happens in about 20% of people who drink more than moderately over about 10 - 15 years. As to what you were saying about the 80 percent of people you know... a good 90 percent of people with cirrhosis dont know they have it as it is often symptomless till the final stages. I have cirrhosis and didnt know until march when i was in the hospital for something else and even that being said I still have no obvious symptoms. Its usually discovered by accident in alot of patients. However fibrosis will develop in all heavy drinkers at some point. Cirrhosis is simply the term given to stage 4 fibrosis Again nothings to say you have any of it. But yea keep off the alcohol and see what the dr says.

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I bet if they had the relevant tests and scans done they'd probably find they do have some liver damage ! Why gamble your health and life for a poison .... I know what I value more

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Hi

How are you all feeling?

I was diagnosed with nafld 2 years ago caused by the meds my drs have given me over the years!!! My consultant told me it is the capsule around the liver which causes the pain. In my case my live is that enlarged and fatty that it stretches the capsule around it which has got all the little nerves in it. I was then diagnosed with Nash with some fibrosis iin November 2016. I'm having a scan next Monday to check for fluid and to see what my liver and other organs are up to!!! Love and hugs Lynne xxxx

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Thanks Lynne and all - all makes sense.

Interesting point about medication and liver damage. I have been taking Nexium (PPI) for heartburn for a while and have stopped a few days ago and my right upper quadrant pain has lessened significantly. I am now wondering whether my pain is acid related / medication related or my liver struggling to process the nexium.

Anyone with any experiences?

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