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Alcoholic hepatitis is hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) due to excessive intake of alcohol. While distinct from cirrhosis, it is regarded as the earliest stage of alcoholic liver disease. Symptoms are jaundice, ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity), fatigue and hepatic encephalopathy (brain dysfunction due to liver failure). Mild cases are self-limiting, but severe cases have a high risk of death. Severe cases may be treated with corticosteroids.
Additional recommended knowledge
Symptoms and signs
Alcoholic hepatitis is characterized by a variable constellation of symptoms, which may include feeling unwell, enlargement of the liver, development of fluid in the abdomen ascites, and modest elevation of liver blood tests. Alcoholic hepatitis can vary from mild with only liver test elevation to severe liver inflammation with development of jaundice, prolonged prothrombin time, and liver failure. Severe cases are characterized by either obtundation (dulled consciousness) or the combination of elevated bilirubin levels and prolonged prothrombin time; the mortality rate in both categories is 50% within 30 days of onset.
Alcoholic hepatitis is distinct from cirrhosis caused by long term alcohol consumption. Alcoholic hepatitis can occur in patients with chronic alcoholic liver disease and alcoholic cirrhosis. Alcoholic hepatitis by itself does not lead to cirrhosis, but cirrhosis is more common in patients with long term alcohol consumption. Patients who drink alcohol to excess are also more often than others found to have hepatitis C. The combination of hepatitis C and alcohol consumption accelerates the development of cirrhosis in Western countries.
Some alcoholics get an acute hepatitis or inflammatory reaction to the cells affected by fatty change. This is not directly related to the dose of alcohol. Some people seem more prone to this reaction than others. This is called alcoholic steatonecrosis and the inflammation probably predisposes to liver fibrosis.
The ratio of aspartate aminotransferase to alanine aminotransferase is usually > 2.
Some signs and pathological changes in liver histology include:
If chronic liver disease is also present:
A randomized controlled trial found that among patients with a discriminant function score > 32 and at least one of the following symptoms (palpable tender hepatomegaly, fever, leukocytosis, hepatic encephalopathy, or hepatic systolic bruit), 4.6 patients must be treated with pentoxifylline 400 mg orally 3 times daily for 4 weeks to prevent one patient from dying. 
See alsoPancreas (Acute pancreatitis, Chronic pancreatitis, Pancreatic pseudocyst, Hereditary pancreatitis)
|Other/general||Appendicitis - Peritonitis (Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis)
postprocedural: Gastric dumping syndrome - Postcholecystectomy syndromebleeding: Hematemesis - Melena - Gastrointestinal bleeding (Upper, Lower)
|See also congenital|