Insomnia can be ‘early’ warning sign that drinking has damaged your liver
Lots of us experience problems sleeping in the summer months, whether that is due to the warmer nights, or the longer evenings of socialising and partying. Yet, liver experts say that difficult nodding off can be an early indicator of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease (ALRD).
Many of the other better-known symptoms, like yellowing skin or swelling, only happen once the liver has become severely damaged by alcohol. However, the British Liver Trust says that ALRD can be detected in its “early” stages if people seek help when they have repeated problems getting to sleep.
The NHS says that ALRD-related insomnia is caused by a build-up of toxins in the brain that would previously have been filtered out by the liver; though, the health service warns: “If you misuse alcohol, you may have liver damage, even though you have none of the symptoms above.”
With roughly half of the British population experiencing insomnia over the course of a year, the British Liver Trust suggests that the health conscious should be aware of the other commonly reported early symptoms. These include:
An ache in the upper right side of your stomach
Little or no appetite
An overwhelming sense of fatigue
Feeling generally unwell
If you have a history of alcohol use and have experienced these symptoms, you should speak to your GP.
Damage to your liver can be a very serious health problem, as it is one of the most complex organs in the body and is responsible for: filtering toxins out of our body, breaking down nutrients, and regulating cholesterol.
Normally, the liver is incredibly resilient as it can regenerate dead or damaged cells during its normal function. However, prolonged alcohol use can damage this ability to regenerate.
The NHS explains: “The liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself. Each time your liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die.
“The liver can develop new cells, but prolonged alcohol misuse (drinking too much) over many years can reduce its ability to regenerate. This can result in serious and permanent damage to your liver.”
ARLD is very common in the UK and, while it can be treated, the only way to prevent the disease is to either stop drinking, or at least drink within medical guidelines.