5 Symptoms Of Alcoholic Hepatitis To Watch Out For

Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by excessive drinking of alcohol. It causes inflammation and damage to the liver, as is most likely to occur in individuals who drink excessively over many years [1].

Nevertheless, the link and relationship between the disease and excessive alcohol consumption are complex.

Despite it being most likely to occur in peo0ple who have been drinking excessively for a number of years.

Alcoholic hepatitis can also occur in people who only drink moderately, and even if you do drink heavily, you may not ever develop alcoholic hepatitis [1].

What’s important to remember is that if you are diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, you should stop drinking alcohol immediately.

If an individual continues to drink after being diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, then they are putting themselves at a higher risk of developing other serious diseases such as liver damage, or ultimately death [1].

Therefore, it’s important to understand the common symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis, so that it can be diagnosed quickly and the individual can stop drinking at the earliest opportunity.

The 5 symptoms are as follows:

1. Loss of Appetite

Compared to other symptoms, you may not think that a loss of appetite is very important. However, a loss of appetite can often indicate some serious, underlying issues [2].

Sometimes, individuals who are drinking excessively struggle to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

This can lead to malnourishment, where the individual lacks the important vitamins, minerals and proteins to help keep their body functioning.

This then leads to a loss of appetite and feeling constantly dizzy or faint [2].

2. Jaundice (Yellowing of the Skin or the Whites of the Eyes)

Jaundice is where the skin turns slightly yellow in tone, or the whites of the eyes turn a yellow tone. This is caused by waste in the blood called bilirubin.

As the blood moves around the body, bilirubin is distributed.

This is why the areas in the body with high blood interaction, such as the skin and the eyes turn yellow before the rest of the body does.

Jaundice can sometimes be treated with steroids, depending on the severity [2].

3. Throwing up and feeling Nauseous

Everyone knows that a common side effect of drinking is feeling and being physically sick. However, this is also a symptom of alcoholic hepatitis.

When alcoholic hepatitis results in chronic and long term nausea or being persistently sick, this means that it’s very serious and you must seek professional medical help as soon as possible [2].

If you’re feeling sick from alcoholic hepatitis, then a doctor will likely prescribe anti-nausea medications that can treat the symptoms, but not the underlying cause [2].

4. A Tender Abdominal

If you’re drinking heavily and experiencing a tender or swollen abdominal, this could be a sign of a damaged and swollen liver. This is also commonly known as hepatomegaly [2].

Sometimes, hepatomegaly caused by excessive drinking and alcoholic hepatitis is so serious that it can appear like a ‘spare tire’ around the abdominal and midsection of the body [2].

5. Fever, even a Low One

If you have alcoholic hepatitis, you may experience a slight fever.

This is down to the fact that when the liver isn’t working properly, the body is more likely to pick up an infection with symptoms of fever [2].

Any treatment is likely to treat the infection and fever, but not the underlying cause, alcoholic hepatitis.

Additional signs and symptoms that occur with severe alcoholic hepatitis include:

  • A buildup of fluid in the abdomen
  • Feeling confused (caused by an excessive amount of toxins being built up which is usually broken down by the liver)
  • Kidney failure and/or liver failure

Causes of Alcoholic Hepatitis

Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by excessive drinking and therefore, damage to your liver.

Alcohol damages the liver because when alcohol is processed by the liver, it produces a host of toxic chemicals.

These harmful, toxic chemicals damage the liver cells, leading to inflammation and eventually alcoholic hepatitis [1].

There is a range of factors that increase the chance of getting alcoholic hepatitis, such as [1]:

1. Gender

Women process alcohol differently from men and are therefore more likely to get alcoholic hepatitis.

2. Obesity and Body Fat Percentage.

If you’re overweight and drinking heavily, then you’re much more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis.

3. Genetics

There may also be a link between alcohol-induced liver disease and your genetics.

4. Race

If you’re mixed race or BAME, then you might be more at risk of developing alcoholic hepatitis.

5. Excessive Drinking

If you drink excessively, then you are more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis than someone who drinks moderately or not at all.

How to Prevent getting Alcoholic Hepatitis [1]

Below we’ve listed 3 ways you can prevent yourself from contracting Alcoholic Hepatitis.

1. Drink alcohol in moderation

You should avoid drinking heavily or binge drinking, and stick to healthy amounts of alcohol on a daily basis. This is the only proven, certain way of avoiding alcoholic hepatitis.

2. Avoid getting Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is an infection in the liver, and if you drink alcohol whilst you have hepatitis C, you’re more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis.

3. Check all Medications

If you think you’re at risk of developing hepatitis of any form, then you should be checking with your doctor to see what medication you’re allowed.

You should also be reading the labels and ingredients of all over-the-counter medications.

How to Diagnose Alcoholic Hepatitis [1]

If you have any of the above symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis, then you should seek help from a medical professional as soon as possible.

Your doctor will likely ask you about your general health and alcohol consumption.

Your doctor will also perform a physical examination on your liver and spleen to check to see if they’re enlarged in any way.

They may be able to perform any of the following tests;

  • A liver function test
  • A blood-clotting testing
  • A CT scan on your abdominal
  • An ultrasound on the liver
  • A complete blood count test (CBC)
  • A liver biopsy

If you think you’re at risk of developing alcoholic hepatitis or have any of the above symptoms, then you should ask to see your local GP for an appointment as soon as possible.


[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcoholic-hepatitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351388

[2] https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/blog/5-symptoms-alcoholic-hepatitis/