Describe any 3 effects that alcohol can have on the liver.  Which of these are long-term and which are short-term effects?

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The liver is probably the single organ most susceptible to damage from the excessive consumption of alcohol.  There are three basic stages to alcoholic liver disease (ALD).  The first stage is called fatty liver.  This is when triglycerides (fat) accumulate in the liver.  This is a short term effect and can be reversed with eliminating or moderating alcohol consumption.  The second stage is alcoholic hepatitis.  This is when the liver is inflamed or enlarged due to excessive drinking.  While this is dangerous, it can be considered short term since the effects can be reversed with the elimination of alcohol.  The third stage is cirrhosis.  This is when enough liver cells die that the blood flow through the liver is impeded.  As a result, toxins that are normally metabolized and filtered out of the blood by the liver begin to accumulate and can lead to serious health problems.  Cirrhosis is a long term effect caused by years of abuse and there is no way to repair the liver short of replacement with a transplant.