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Should I Stop Drinking If I Have Hepatitis?

Should I Stop Drinking If I Have Hepatitis?

Living with a condition like hepatitis is complex and often calls for significant lifestyle adjustments. Among the many questions that may arise, the one looming large for most is: Do I have to stop drinking alcohol?

If you have hepatitis, particularly hepatitis C, you need to tread carefully around alcohol, understanding its influence on your liver and overall health. 

Many Chicagoans trust Dr. Darrien Gaston at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants for the straight scoop on hepatitis treatments. 

Here, he expertly explains hepatitis, alcohol, and your health so you can make informed decisions.

How hepatitis impacts your liver

Before we tackle the question of whether alcohol has a place in your life after a hepatitis diagnosis, let’s lay the groundwork. 

Hepatitis is a medical term for inflammation of the liver. It has several possible causes, the most common being viral infections (hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E) and toxins (notably alcohol). 

Your liver, a powerhouse organ that processes nutrients and drugs, makes bile and purifies blood, relies on a delicate balance of internal conditions. Hepatitis tips this balance, leading to a cascade of health challenges.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C, in particular, is a chronic condition that, without treatment, can lead to severe liver damage. It often goes undetected due to a lack of noticeable symptoms, but over time, it can result in liver scarring, known as cirrhosis, and other life-threatening complications. 

Dr. Gaston typically prescribes direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medications that can cure the disease, but continued alcohol consumption can hinder your treatment and your health.

Alcohol and hepatitis C: What the research says

The relationship between alcohol and hepatitis C is complex and multifaceted. For people who’ve completed DAA treatments or are in the process of doing so, understanding the risks associated with alcohol becomes even more crucial — despite the joy that comes with a completed treatment plan, your liver remains a vulnerable organ.

Several studies and intensive research over the years have consistently pointed out the adverse effects of alcohol on liver health, especially with hepatitis C. Among the most significant findings are the worsening of liver scarring, an increased risk of infection relapse following treatment, and a heightened risk of liver cancer even after successful viral eradication.

Should you stop drinking if you have hepatitis?

The resounding response from the medical community and the evidence is “yes.” 

For those with hepatitis C, as well as other forms of hepatitis, safeguarding liver health means making difficult choices, and for many, that includes eliminating alcohol.

Weighing the cost of a drink

We can emphasize strongly enough the benefit of remaining abstinent from alcohol after a hepatitis C diagnosis. 

While giving up a seemingly harmless beverage may seem arbitrary, the long-term effects on your liver health are anything but trivial. With newer DAA treatments, your liver has a chance to heal and regenerate, but the process is unforgiving when alcohol is in the equation.

The health benefits of sobriety

Quitting alcohol has overwhelmingly positive implications when you have hepatitis. It can slow the progression of liver damage, reduce the risk of a relapse, and safeguard against the development of liver cancer. 

Acknowledging the need to curtail or eliminate alcohol consumption is the first step in the right direction. But making this change can be challenging, even daunting. Focusing on strategies such as seeking professional help, joining support groups, and making lifestyle adjustments can significantly improve the likelihood of success.

For expert hepatitis care, call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, Illinois, and save your liver.

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