Cause & Risk Factors
Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) is damage to the liver induced by excessive alcohol consumption.
- Alcohol bingeing and abuse over a long period of time can lead to ALD. Almost all the alcohol ingested is metabolised in the liver. If the alcohol consumption is higher than the rate of metabolism, the probability of developing ALD is potentially greater. Males drinking in excess of 80g and females in excess of 40g of alcohol per day for 10 years are at higher risk. Women are more susceptible to developing cirrhosis at an earlier age, exhibit symptoms at advanced stage and have more complications than males.
- Genetics may play a role in the development of ALD.
- Malnutrition can contribute to liver disease and it develops as a result of empty calories from alcohol, loss of appetite, malabsorption (inadequate absorption of nutrients).
People with liver cirrhosis may develop jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes and tongue), itching and extreme tiredness.
Liver failure is a severe life-threatening condition that can present acutely or chronically. Unlike kidney failure, there is no long-term replacement treatment apart from liver transplantation. Liver transplantation is expensive, requires a donor, and involves a major operation. As it takes at least one week to organise an appropriate liver transplant, liver dialysis is used as a bridge to liver transplantation for some patients with acute liver failure to support him/her through his/her liver failure until transplantation can be performed. Patients have been treated even up to one month while waiting for suitable living donors.
Liver dialysis is performed in the ICU in our dedicated Parkway Asian Transplant Unit, using a non-biological liver dialysis device known as the Molecular adsorbing re-circulating system (MARS™). It is the most commonly used device and it comes as an intermittent device or continuous device. Its charcoal-based system adsorbs the toxins, providing a detoxifying function without any contribution of the normal liver synthetic function. It may be coupled with a plasma separator and there may also be an albumin dialysate. The system usually has some way of trying to renew the cartridges to prolong its lifespan. This device has been utilised extensively at AALC for several years.
Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that demands urgent medical care. Most often, liver failure occurs gradually and over many years. However, a more rare condition known as acute liver failure occurs rapidly (in as little as 48 hours) and can be difficult to detect initially.
Shaped almost like a triangle and divided into 2 main lobes (the right and left lobes), the liver can weigh up to 1.4kg in an adult. It is dark reddish-brown in colour, and is located behind our right ribs and stretches across the abdomen to the left upper abdomen. It is covered entirely by a double layer of thin membrane that keeps it in place and reduces friction against other organs in the abdominal cavity. The liver functions as a regulation, storage and purification unit in our body.
When the process is interrupted or slowed down, the fats will start to build up in the liver cells. Thus, the term “fatty liver” for this condition. Fatty liver disorder is categorised into alcoholic fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).