I have been a heavy drinker for the last 8/9 years.

Ask The Doctor > Questions & Answers > I have been a heavy drinker for the last 8/9 years.

Patient: I have been a heavy drinker for the last 8/9 years and recently decided it was time to stop drinking completely. I’ve started exercising and I am getting close to my ideal weight. My concern is that I may have done damage to my liver. I understand the first stage of liver disease is fatty liver and that is reversible and is the early stages of stage two. I am 38 years old. How concerned should I be? I am scheduled for a physical next month including the complete metabolic panel w/eGFR. Will this be sufficient to give me piece of mind if all clear?

Symptoms: No symptoms.

Doctor: Hello,I understand your concerns.Your decision to stop alcohol completely is commendable.Chronic alcoholic intake can cause liver damage.Fatty Liver is the initial phase.Once the liver damage is identified in initial stages (fatty liver)and the inciting agent is controlled, there is a high probability that liver condition improves with time.It may take few years for the liver recovery to occur.Fortunately, liver has a tremendous ability of regeneration.Hope the metabolic panel has ultrasound abdomen,liver function test, complete hemogram and viral markers as a part of the investigations.Once they are normal, the possibility of a liver abnormality is very low.If the ultrasound/metabolic panel shows any abnormality, I recommend you to meet a physician for further evaluation.Hope this information helps.Regards.

Comments / Follow Ups

Patient: Thank you for the reply. I know every situation is different, but given my background age and the changes I’ve made would this typically be a situation where the liver would have progressed beyond early stages. I only ask as you might imagine my immense anxiety as my physical is not until next month. Regards.

Doctor: Hello
Few signs of advanced liver disease are leg swelling, fluid accumulation in abdomen, jaundice, unconsciousness.
Chronic alcohol intake in high doses for 10 years or more usually causes liver disease irrespective of age.
Again these are not hard and fast rules.
Not everyone who consumes alcohol for long duration has advanced liver disease.
At times people who consume alcohol for lesser duration may also have liver disease.
It is a good thing that you are abstinent from alcohol.

Was this answer helpful?

Dr. Jimmy Obaji M.D.

Dr. Jimmy Obaji completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of Manitoba. He currently operates a walk-in-clinic in downtown Toronto.

Book Appointment