Recently published studies are bringing the ever increasing plight of alcoholism among the elderly community to light. With the baby boomer generation reaching the geriatric stages of life their lax views on the use of mind-altering substances such as alcohol and opiates has translated to an increased usage among the elderly. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 40 percent of adults over the age of 65 consume alcohol. This seems inconsequential, but increased age also decreases one’s tolerance of alcohol’s effects on the body.
The liver is especially sensitive to the effects of alcohol. As the body’s natural filtration system, the liver can begin to scar and harden when overexposed to alcohol, inhibiting its ability to properly flush toxins from the body. As alcohol continues to ravage the body due to excessive use, one can develop what is called Simple Steatosis, or Fatty Liver. This is the earliest stage of a dangerous condition known as Alcoholic Liver Disease, when fat deposits in the cells of the liver. If the disease is diagnosed at this stage it is easily treated and reversible. However, many do not recognize a problem as symptoms at this stage are mild and mimic those of a hangover.
Left untreated, Fatty Liver can develop into Alcoholic Hepatitis and eventually Cirrhosis of the Liver. Cirrhosis is the final and most difficult to treat stage of liver disease, as the liver is scarred and close to death. Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver include debilitating fatigue, sudden weight loss or weight gain, disorientation and personality changes, jaundice and bloody stools. Often treatment involves invasive surgeries to remove parts of or the entire liver, requiring transplants or dependency on liver dialysis treatments for the remainder of one’s life.
Do you have any loved ones who may be at risk?
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