Symptoms alcoholic liver disease and my so called tan!

Now as far as symptoms of alcoholic liver disease is concerned unfortunately there is a fair bit of snobbery .

When it comes to alcoholic liver disease symptoms , firstly people judge, they say it’s just passing and interpreting all your symptoms in different kinds of ways.

Here I aim to give you a little bit of insight into my journey over what was a few months so you can at least start a discussion firstly with yourself about it. Secondly luckily I’m still alive and well.

Third and here comes the boring bit, I’m not a doctor or liver expert so you know what I am going to say to you today, get advice knowing is better than not knowing and it could save your life.

I was 48 hours from never dancing to Abba ever again! ( Feel free to insert whatever works for you in the last bit!) By the way you only have one liver and it can’t always regenerate so action is good.

symptoms alcoholic liver disease

Don’t be fooled by how much you drink?

I have written a lot about social drinking here and firstly I’m not the ex smoking telling you what to do. Really it’s the last thing you need. So where do I start? Apparently my situation is common amongst judges and media people.

Also I drink less than many of the people treating me in the hospital. These were all statement made to me but I did not care for these reasons and I think good ones:

  • I wanted to live
  • I had not got a will
  • I love my partner and my cat
  • I still wanted to go no holiday
  • What would people think of me?

Not all but some of these are rational, many are not, so let’s skip to the facts. Yes I drank but you would hardly ever see me drunk. I never drank in the morning unless I was going on holiday in an airport. I know people who hate people for that and post it on facebook!

I would enjoy long lunches with friends and the wine would equally keep coming for everyone.

Yes I enjoyed a few glasses of wine after work and waiting for a train but I was hardly the bottle of vodka hidden in my jacket pocket each day. In fact I never drank spirits only on special occasions.

If you are vodka in the pocket man or woman by the way, the same rules apply. You  don’t judge me and I certainly don’t judge you as alcohol is the biggest most recommended recreational drug on earth. Just look at the ads!

People in glass windows come to mind. Depending on your constitution, an infection ( which I had) , your weight, genetics, stress and alcohol tolerance affect us all differently.

When I arrived on an emergency admission into hospital my blood alcohol level was zero so they tested me for everything else and kept testing.

So don’t be fooled by how much you drink! It could happen to any of us.

My stomach

So you know when you get a symptom and think it’s just “a thing”.

The phrase prover and thinker come to mind. What the “thinker thinks the prover proves”. So in terms of a symptom I was excusing them from the beginning and bear in mind they arrived in very quick succession.

Imagine you are lying in a bath looking down, ok stay with me! My belly button which can be odd things at the best of times was changing shape. It looked odd but my excuse was weight.

However when I looked at my stomach it had expanded but not in an eating way too much kind of way.

symptoms alcoholic liver disease

One of the symptoms of alcoholic liver disease is that water builds up in an area that it shouldn’t, namely the stomach but this could be the ankles. I must have stared at my stomach daily but thought nothing of it which was strange as I was reasonably fit and hit 10,000 steps a day. I did not have a six pack but could have passed off a two or three pack. I felt good just saying that!

My Eyes

Then there were my eyes, they changed colour to a yellow look. If you pulled down my eyelids it would have looked really jaundiced. It turns out this is one of the major symptoms going forward in that they checked it a lot! So a bit of science coming up .

symptoms alcoholic liver disease

”Bilirubin” which I would be checked for is a yellowish substance in your blood. So imagine red blood cells breaking down, and travelling  through your liver, gallbladder, and digestive tract before being excreted.

So basically because my liver was failing it was going into my body and not being excreted. In fact my level was through the roof which is why I was admitted to hospital .

Every meeting with my consultants and out patients these levels were checked regularly and thank goodness after medical care and zero alcohol the level dropped significantly. Footnote: if you continue drinking you are signing your life away even if you only ever had one glass of wine with dinner per night.

My tan confusion

The same thing happened to my skin but you know what if it took other people to tell me that. My face and chest in particular had changed colour. It was actually someone who I had little contact with at work who said to me “ you have changed colour and you don’t look well”.

It did make me think. Now to complicate matters I had just come back from Spain so people were saying how well and tanned I looked.

Again a great example of people seeing what they want to see or not saying anything. Here is an example of a taxi driver who is lovely and I had a conversation with albeit short days before being admitted:

Me “ Hi there”

Taxi Driver : “ How are you you look life a different colour if you don’t mind me saying”

Me : “ I am just back from Spain, its my tan”

The conversation ended there nothing usual but what he was talking about was the symptoms alcoholic liver disease. He later confessed when he saw me looking better that he went home and said to his wife that he thought I did not have long to live and wished he had pushed the conversation!

So get a clear steer of your symptoms and get checked.

So it wasn’t my tan after all – symptoms of alcoholic liver disease

Although My liver is permanently damaged and there are probably lesser alcohol liver disease symptoms to talk about, those were the main ones ( colour, swelling and tiredness the latter I have not talked about but I kept falling asleep )

When I look back this  began my journey on alcohol and this website offering more options out there.

It is seriously an issue.  So when people say you had a drink problem then I can probably honestly say well no more than anyway else that drinks.

The British Liver trust is a great organization to look up  and outside the UK they would be glad to direct you. For goodness sake check in with your Doctor and who cares about the embarrassment , if it was your heart no one would blink and that’s the irony. You don’t have to be the biggest drinker in town, I wasn’t!


16 thoughts on “Symptoms alcoholic liver disease”

  1. Hey, it’s good to be able to read your articles and that you were able to come out of that complicated situation and are well again. I’m sure you have been changed into another version of yourself. A version you didn’t know some years ago. I also know that second chances never come by chance. Think about that one!

    • Thanks so much for your comment and feedback. It is true is really does make you think so you are spot on there. I very much appreciate you spending time to share to Abel. Food for thought!

  2. Hi, this is a very important and interesting post. Who knew someone who doesnt drink to excess would have an issue. Then, I suppose thats the common misconception of liver issues. Keep up the great work.

  3. Hi Phil,

    Firstly, I have to say I’m so impressed by your honesty.

    Your story is something that is very familiar to me – well not me personally, but I’ll explain.

    I have a close friend, who’s only 10 years older than me. We regularly socialised in a local pub, which I guess is almost a British tradition.

    I’d class myself as a binge drinker, there’s no two ways about. I can typically not drink for weeks at a time, but when I do… when let’s just say all hell breaks loose. But that’s enough about me.

    My friend is someone I’d call a more regular drinker than me, but not to excess. Perhaps he’d have a couple of pints, once or twice during the week, and then a fair few more over the weekend.

    He never touched spirits, was a Real Ale and Guinness man, and suddenly in his mid-50s he started experiencing his first ever real health issues.

    As it turned out his liver function was extremely poor and he was advised to knock the drink on the head, for at least a few months, and see if that made any difference.

    I note you’ve mentioned about liver regeneration, and this was his and his Doctor’s hope.

    Fast forward two and a half years, his liver function hasn’t improved that much and he has only had a drink 3 times in 30 months, mainly as a Christmas celebration (and I’m literally talking 2 pints each time).

    I think he’s come to terms with the fact that he’ll never probably drink again.

    It’s great to read your story and I will be following your journey.

    • Thankyou so much Partha, and for sharing your story. Its very common and knocking the drink on the head is challenging even if you are talking a few here and there. I guess that’s why I created this blog to share my story and do my best to share social options for drink at 0.0%. Please send my best wishes to your friend, damage can be permanent but its seems life style changes can at least prevent futher damage even when its just a few drinks per week. As I say for many it never becomes an issue in terms of health so you never know. Thanks so much for your support and also your honesty. My very best, Phil

  4. This is such an important topic and it’s refreshing that you’re so honest about it. It’s not an easy thing to talk about because of the stigma but it needs to be talked about so that people realise you don’t have to be a big drinker to suffer these sorts of consequences. I’m glad you’re better, keep well.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience with this. Scary stuff. This is definitely one of those areas where knowledge is power, Forewarned is forewarned. I was aware of some of these symptoms but not all by a long shot. I am sure you are right that this can happen to anyone who drinks and our tolerance to alcohol can differ enormously. I remember the first friend of my to get into this situation with acute liver damage from alcohol was a friend of mine in college. He was 22 years old at the time. Those of us who drink should commit these symptoms to memory to improve our chances of spotting them early. After all, we can’t all rely on friendly taxi cab drivers. Thanks again, Andy

    • Hey Andy, what a great response, thanks so much for taking time out to post.You are so right on everythng you say. It is always interesting to hear personal stories from people you know as it makes it all come alive in the real world. Much appreciated, Phil

  6. Wow, it’s amazing to read the story from the patient’s side. I can’t get enough of it. Reminds me of what we were taught in medical school that a patient is more than just a condition. Thank you for bringing that into perspective. Alcoholic liver disease often gradually develops in unsuspecting people until its too late. Just glad you are alive and safe. Keep sharing your story.

    • That’s very kind of you Zay, thanks so much for your support, it is very appreciated as is the time you took to comment.  Phil

  7. Hey, Phil,

    I drink once in a while, but I’m more conscious about it now as compared to my early 20s. A cousin of mines drinks a lot, even though he’s a diabetic. I don’t know if he has any other diseases, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was diagnosed with a liver disease one day.

    Alcohol is a drug. We should be careful with its consumption. When we’re younger, it has a lot to do with peer pressure, but when we’re older it’s our choice.

    Health is very important and once you lose it, you might not get it back. As you mentioned in the end, if it was our heart, we wouldn’t hesitate to seek medical advice, but not so when it’s something else. It’s a pity indeed.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Enrique, I really thank you for sharing a personal story as I know both I and others will appreciated it. Your comment is a very good sum of what can happen and also the effect of social pressure. I really appreciate you taking time out to share. Much appreciated, Phil


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