The most important measure to be taken in alcoholic hepatitis treatment is cessation of alcohol. There is no possibility of reversing the liver damage involved in hepatitis or stopping it from getting worse if drinking continues. As a matter of fact, when the consumption of alcohol stops it definitely is possible to see improvements in only a few months. Whereas, more complications will be encountered if drinking does not stop. In fact, alcoholic hepatitis will develop into cirrhosis if the drinking persists.
Successful alcoholic hepatitis treatment involves a healthy lifestyle. For many patients it means a total makeover and learning a new way to live. Not only does alcohol have to be removed from the picture, but diet and other factors must be adhered to also. Arriving at and maintaining a healthy weight is mandatory because fats create more liver damage. Part of a healthy lifestyle must also include no smoking because of the effects it has on the liver of a patient suffering from alcoholic hepatitis.
Survival rates have improved with the use of corticosteroid drugs to reduce the inflammation of the liver. However, nearly half of the patients using these drugs for alcoholic hepatitis treatment don’t respond to the steroids. In the case of unresponsiveness some doctors are prescribing pentoxifyline, but the benefits are not totally guaranteed. Steroidal medications cause undesirable side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and probably should be avoided by those with kidney failure.
When alcoholic hepatitis is severe the only alcoholic hepatitis treatment that will spare the person’s life is to do a liver transplant. The survival rate five years after a liver transplant is an impressive 70 percent. Surgeons naturally fear patients will return to drinking after surgery so are sometimes not very eager to do transplants. Before a transplant can even be considered, abstinence from alcohol must be maintained for at least six months before surgery and an agreement to never drink thereafter.
Alcohol Hepatitis and Malnutrition
It is not uncommon for someone with alcoholic hepatitis to suffer from malnutrition. A visit to a dietician is often ordered in an effort to correct the nutritional deficiencies. Vitamins and minerals have to be increased in the diet. Sometimes tube feeding has to be introduced if the patient has difficulty consuming enough nutritional food.
The 2010 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases recommends that all patients should be tested for protein-energy malnutrition and for mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Alcoholic hepatitis treatment should include at least 100 grams per day of protein. In addition, attention should be given to added thiamine, folate, vitamins and minerals. Salt intake should definitely be monitored and restricted. Fats should likely be limited or eliminated from the diet because the alcohol can cause the fats being deposited in the liver.
Support and Counseling
Patients are much more likely to survive and cope better with a good support system including family and friends who will hold them accountable and encourage them along the way. Professional counseling serves a purpose in alcoholic hepatitis treatment, but support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous should never be overlooked either.