How is alcoholic hepatitis treated?

When alcoholic hepatitis is diagnosed, it is important that the patient stop drinking alcohol immediately. Once this happens, the condition may begin to correct itself. The liver’s health may improve after 6 to 12 months without alcohol in the system. The best results are seen if the patient gives up alcohol completely.

Most patients who have been diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis also suffer from malnutrition (the body is not getting the proper amount of protein, vitamins and minerals in the diet). The doctor and/or a dietitian will recommend a special diet and may also suggest that the patient take vitamin supplements while recovering from the disease.

In many cases, the patient does not have an appetite and finds it difficult to get the proper nutrition. The doctor may recommend nutrition through a feeding tube or medicine that will stimulate the patient’s appetite.

If the alcoholic hepatitis is severe and the patient is very sick in the hospital, medications may be prescribed to treat it. In some cases, a clinical trial medication or treatment may be considered.

What are the side effects of treatments for alcoholic hepatitis?

Because alcohol is a drug and is addictive, suddenly stopping drinking is difficult and may cause dangerous side effects. For instance, it can cause alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which include anxiety, confusion, hallucinations and seizures. Patients may be referred to a medically supervised program, or recommended for counseling or a support group to help them stop drinking and to help cope with side effects.

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