Worried: Hi. I'm looking for a bit of... - British Liver Trust

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Worried

Ms14 profile image

Hi. I'm looking for a bit of advice. I am so worried that I've drank too much over the years and I've done damage. I'm 35. I've mostly drank around 4 times a week. 35cl of vodka each occasion. Sometimes wine. Sometimes about 100 units a week. Sometimes less. I've had a full blood test including all the liver function tests and they've been fine. Never elevated. I have health anxiety. I've told the doctors everything and even booked a private scan this week. My urine is always clear but I do have an ache under my right breast (not sure if this is anxiety),achey legs. I'm worried that even with the tests I've done damage and they're missing something. I always get bad hangovers too. I've gone a few weeks without drinking but drank this weekend and feel so annoyed at myself. Can anyone help?

31 Replies

Have you thought about some psychotherapy to help manage your anxiety?

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to deanw41

I haven't. I'm only worrying as much because I don't feel right and I know I've drank too much for so long. Also reading that tests can be normal has added to the anxiety 😢

deanw41 profile image
deanw41 in reply to Ms14

I can empathise with you as someone who also has episodes of health anxiety. All I can say is if you have all your bloods done and your scans etc and they are fine perhaps some psychological work might be required. I am by no means devaluing your complaints and I am also an advocate of ‘your know your own body’. It’s definitely a balancing act and I wish you all the best.😊👍

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to deanw41

Thank you. I understand completely and maybe you're right. I think my anxiety would like a definite answer and because I've read that results can be normal my brain is like well that's not good enough. I have the scan on Thursday and if that comes back OK I have to trust it. Worrying this much isn't living. I have a degree of shame that I've drank so much over the years I think too. If I was to cause a problem with my liver I'd be devastated.

Also if you drank at the weekend you probably have anxiety from that. Alcohol is a depressant, when you drink your body releases chemicals like adrenaline to balance out the depressant. As the alcohol(depressant) wears off, your left with the residual balancing chemicals which gives you anxiety. I offer you this information as someone who has experienced that hamster wheel.

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to deanw41

I agree. Not drinking makes me feel so much better mentally. I'm also beating myself up about it which isn't helping.

Yes,that hamster wheel. Alcohol took me to cirrhosis and it was only that,that made me stop. Powerful stuff. It’s also a lie. Strip it back, it serves no purpose. Everything it’s ‘supposed’ to do, it does the opposite. Wish you all the best.😊👍

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to deanw41

Thank you Dean. I've just read your posts and you've done amazingly. You should be very proud. Alcohol isn't a friend. Even though I've thought it is at times. It frightens me.

deanw41 profile image
deanw41 in reply to Ms14

Thank you. Your right,it’s no friend,but it is really good at convincing you it is!!!🤦‍♂️

Alcohol and anxiety are best friends. You can kill 2 birds with one stone here 😬. A normal blood test is very positive, and they’d have referred you for a scan on the NHS if they suspected a problem. This could be a great time to turn your fear into action and talk to your doctor about the help that is on offer to help quit drinking.

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to

Thank you. I've had the same blood tests for years so I guess that's positive too. They did refer me but only because I kept on. But I can't wait so I've gone private. I don't feel 100 per cent though which is a concern. But I guess anxiety can do that too.

Lils2019 profile image
Lils2019 in reply to

Hi, Normal bloods are good however my husbands bloods were fine when he was very poorly in ICU and they did not match what the CT revealed.

It was actually a few months later October 2020, when they started showing something was going on, referral back to the hospital made by GP.

Follow up bloods still not right, fibroscan done to confirm diagnosis, readmitted back into hospital feb this year, endoscopy done and ultrasound scans done, diagnosed in April with decompensated cirrhosis.

Husband has all manor of tests, endoscopy, fibroscan, ct, ultrasound, and bloods. Fibroscan used to confirm and husbands consultant wasn’t interested in score as it doesn’t change anything.

He has been alcohol free for nearly 14 months, but the damage has been done sadly, he is now borderline assessment for transplant and he is very, very poorly, chronic fatigue, feels very unwell, feels sick, has HE and all that goes with that, medicated for it, has had varices that bled, has portal hypertension, horrible taste in his mouth, he has a lot of pain and cramping to deal with, he can just about manage a walk to the bathroom and back, it’s never ending.

If scans and bloods and other tests are normal then I would say it was something else going on,

Take care x

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to Lils2019

I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. I hope he gets a transplant. Do you mind if I ask how long and how much he drank? Drinking is much darker than people realise. I'm going to have the scan to check and hopefully it's OK. I never want to drink again.

Lils2019 profile image
Lils2019 in reply to Ms14

Hi,I don’t mind, He progressed from a few nights out with his mates, to full on heavy drinking as the years went by, he gradually increased his drinking and it became a hard habit to break.

One Christmas when my children were small I ended up having to ring a 999, he been out to the pub Christmas Day and came home and passed out on the floor, very scary, but not enough to stop him, he’d been drinking whiskey in half pint measures 😳

Every Christmas, every special occasion was ruined, every Christmas he spent weeks been constantly drunk, not pleasant, I was constantly telling him his relationship with alcohol was unhealthy, the arguments we used to have and I was always a nag, so eventually I just left him to get on with it.

Roll on to his worst last year shortly before the varices burst, and I calculated that he was drinking around 230 units a week.

He was unaware there was something so wrong, even though he felt unwell most of the time, but usually drunk, and the withdrawal was unreal.

But have a drink and the symptoms went away.

It has been a real wake up call for him and he has said he will never drink ever again, and that he never realised how dangerous this stuff is, it destroys lives and tears families apart.

laura53923 profile image
laura53923 in reply to Ms14

Give it up. Alcohol killed my husband!

Hi ms14. I am under italk therapy for health anxiety as was constantly worried that I had, or would develop health issues and be told the worse news possible. I drank too much and ended up in hospital due to atrial fibrillation and was given an "MOT" and was found to have fatty liver due to eating the wrong foods and a 169 ALT liver readings which is meant to be 0-49 according to my doctor, but luckily no cirrosis. I know it is easy to say this as I didn't practice it but try not to worry about your health until you are told something that needs worrying about. All being well things will be fine with your liver scan and it will make you feel so much better and you won't need to feel you want a drink. After my MOT I only drink socially now and not for the sake of it because I know as it stands today I have no illness to worry about. This ain't meant to sound patronising but I'm sure you will feel better when your scan results come back ok and you won't feel the need to drink a lot

I was in a similar spot to you three years ago when I had another health issue at 32, first one in my adulthood, and all of a sudden my mind was racing and couldn't stop thinking about the impacts sustained alcohol consumption did to my body. Despite full blood test results that were normal (and being able to look back at a few others from prior years that were also normal), I was determined to learn more because of course you read that some people have normal bloods and still had damage. For at least 1-2 months I had so many "symptoms" - RUQ pain, gastro issues, more itching, etc. I remember staring at the mirror every morning looking in the whites of my eyes for evidence of jaundice. I really let it control my life for a while. I convinced a relative to book me an ultrasound which also came back clear. I was very open about my feelings with both my Dr and my family and none of them seemed concerned that I was truly at risk of liver damage but tried to be supportive in their own ways. It was a really challenging time for my wife as we had a < 1 yo at the time and she felt I was driving at something with little to no merit. It probably took me 3-4 months before I mentally stabilized and carried on without every other thought being fear. All "symptoms" went away and I finally got to the point that I wasn't necessarily convinced I hadn't done damage, but that the best thing I could do is take this as a "shot across the bow" or "warning from heaven" and live life as conscientiously as possible from there on out.

Fast forward three years nearly to the day, I am mostly back on this site because I am back in mental state of concern. I have lived a pretty healthy, clean life since my first "episode", but never truly believed I was "all clear". Recently I had some gastro issues which led me to believe I am having RUQ pain and it only took a couple of days and my mind was racing again. This time, I am taking a much more proactive approach to get over it. I was very open with my wife that my fears had returned but I intended to tackle them differently this time (poor timing as we now have two children with a third on the way). I booked a full blood test from a private lab and am awaiting those results, which I trust will likely be all fine. I am sure with time my "symptoms" will subside as well, however I am not going to also ignore to a point in case it truly is indicative of something going on.

I tell you this only to reiterate that even with a clear scan and labs, you may still be in a state that doesn't fully believe and always have the "what if" scenario nagging at you. If like me you will need to be very proactive on your mental/emotional state to overcome your inner fears. Just be sure to have support in your corner to help you through it and don't ever forget why you started here so you can live a much healthier life here on out.

Falco1 profile image
Falco1 in reply to corvette73

Hi corvette 73. Totally agree with your post. It is amazing how sometimes symptoms can be brought on by "the mind" when there isn't any real issues going on. Glad to hear with your latest worry that you tackled it by being proactive and having tests rather than "burying your head in the sand and it will go away" which I would have won an olympic gold medal for if it was a sport, unlike how I am now. I am eating healthier now and hardly drink alcohol and feel better for it. Sending you best wishes for your test results

If your bloods and fibroscan were fine, and doctors aren't concerned, then you probably don't have anything to worry about, and your symptoms are mostly psychosomatic. Is cutting back on drinking a good idea? Sure. 100 units per week is a lot, so even if you don't have any problems now, it's probably a good idea to cut back so that you don't have problems later.

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to JJgut

I have cut back. That was only sometimes. Definitely too many times but there were lots of times I didn't. I'm having weeks without alcohol now but think it's best to stop completely. I haven't had a fibroscan. I have an ultrasound scan on Thursday

in reply to Ms14

Hi I'm sorry about your anxiety I get like that when drink too much and makes me stop for a bit as you have read drinking is so bad to the body and mind I felt so better when I don't drink better mood less anxious and feel healthy and no guilt, I have decided to stop although one night at a time I stopped for 3 month's put money in pot 25o pound saved if you do this each night you don't drink hope will make you realise how much you waiste, your still young enough to repair the damage I think but the older we get the harder it is my liver count was high last year I was 55after 3 month's stopping it was normal, but my sister got rapid heart beat and nearly died she's on beta blockers now, I know someone who fell downstairs died age 42 I think it would help if you go to AA there lovely people from.all walks of life and it was very uplifting I'm going to go again there's a thin line between alcoholism and binge binge is very bad as the liver can only cope with 6 units it needs time to recover, if you can foccus on been healthier all round like swimming eating healthy foods good for liver etc you'll get more into health mode and swimming helps with anxiety it's relaxing and you'll sleep better I wish you well take very good care of your precious body 🤗xx

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to

Thank you for your reply. I've gone weeks without any alcohol but then had some on the weekend. The anxiety hot again because I'm still worried I may have caused damage. So even having one is causing anxiety at the moment . I defo agree with the think line. I am eating healthy and exercising now. I did stop for a while when covid hit.

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to Ms14

Thin line I meant 😬

in reply to Ms14

😊actually think may be appropriate think before we drink and cross that line 🤗

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to Ms14

I'm so sorry about your sister. And we'll done to you for going three months. That's really good.

laura53923 profile image
laura53923 in reply to Ms14

It is better to stop completely but please speak to your GP. You may need medication if you start to suffer symptoms of withdrawral.

Ms14 profile image
Ms14 in reply to laura53923

Hi Laura. I was having 2 to 3 alcohol free days each week and breaks of up to 3 weeks. I've never had withdrawal symtoms.

laura53923 profile image
laura53923 in reply to Ms14

Great news.

I had this probably 7 or 8 years ago, and I had drank way more almost every night, and continued to drink. If I had to venture a guess I don't think the level of drinking and your age would indicate you have liver damage, or much of it if you do. I used to worry a lot more before finally finding the right anxiety meds, but now kind of realize worrying about that does no good, and I should just follow the guidelines as if I do have liver disease and that's all I can really control. I know it's hard not to worry as I've long suffered from it but not drinking, exercising and perhaps, if needed, anxiety meds can really help.

Hey there,Your liver needs a break. In order for you to stay stopped perhaps look at some support AA is really good.

Then some good therapy.

You've got this.

Firstly well done on the time you didn’t drink and I’m sure you can last longer next time if you want to. I hope the scan comes back fine and you can stop worrying but please don’t go back to drinking even with a clear bill of health, although the odd one if you can control yourself is fine. Now, not to alarm you at all (and we aren’t the same), but my bloods are perfectly normal and in the normal ranges yet my liver is cirrhotic (been on but now off the transplant list) as I’ve got autoimmune hepatitis (my own body attacks my liver rather than through alcohol damage). I know because I had spontaneous peritonitis and had abdominal surgery so they found it. Very unwell at the time but 5 years later and on the right meds I’m doing great! I’m checked regularly and only have Stage 1 varises in my throat thankfully.

You see the liver is wonderful and even though most of mine is knackered, enough healthy patches survive to work fine And it’s our only organ that can regenerate itself.

So suppose you Have damaged your liver, but you change your habits now, your liver will heal itself and you shouldn’t get any problems with it down the line. Amazing eh! Yes it’s good to get checked out but it sounds like a lot of guilt for drinking so much in the past. Forgive yourself but aim to be healthy and not go over the recommendations of 14 units a week so don’t beat yourself up for the occasional drink say out with friends for a meal. Instead congratulate yourself on learning more about the dangers of alcohol now and wanting a healthier future. Even with some damage it’s definitely not all gloom and doom. Good luck

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