Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol
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Because fatty liver disease symptoms are notoriously slow to appear, the condition is often advanced by the time it’s picked up. At this stage, the accumulation of fat in the liver will make it increasingly difficult for blood to flow throughout the organ properly. This results in an increase in blood pressure in the vein carrying blood from the gut, which could affect the consistency and appearance of stool.
Upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage, regardless of its cause, is a common clinical presentation associated with a significant mortality risk.
The most common underlying cause for oesophageal varices is alcoholic-related liver disease, which occurs in many patients with chronic liver disease.
In fact, among patients with advanced liver scarring who experience gastrointestinal bleeding, between 78 and 87 percent of cases are due to bleeding varices.
Oesophageal varices form when the veins inside the oesophagus become extremely dilated, making them vulnerable to ruptures and bleeding.
Varices in this part of the body are a common cause of melena due to portal hypertension secondary to cirrhosis.
The health platform Teach Me Surgery explains: “Melena refers to black tarry stools, which usually occur due to upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
“It has a characteristic tarry colour and offensive smell, and is often difficult to flush away.”
According to Science Direct, it is the “sticky nature” of melena which renders it difficult to flush down the toilet.
“The change to the stool consistency occurs due to the alteration and degradation of blood by intestinal enzymes, resulting in melena,” adds Teach Me Surgery.
“Any melena occurring in a patient with known chronic liver disease should be urgently investigated or potential variceal bleeding,” cautions the health body.
Some studies have shown that as many as 40 percent of patients with fatty liver disease experience melena.
This bleeding can lead to complications like chronic anaemia, but may also lead to important blood loss in a short space of time.
It should be noted that not all gastrointestinal bleeding translates to black tarry stool, as some cases cause bright red blood in the stool instead.
The appearance of stool is determined by whether the blood has mixed in with the stool or come out separately, as well as where the bleeding is located in the gastrointestinal tract.
For example, bright red blood in the stool tends to be indicative of bleeding nearer to the rectum.
Black tarry stools, on the other hand, tend to reflect bleeding earlier in the gastrointestinal system.
Equally, it’s important to recognise that mild gastrointestinal bleeding can go unnoticed for a long period of time unless spotting during an examination.
More severe cases will typically present with blatant symptoms of anaemia, like paleness, dizziness, shortness of breath and weakness.
“If the bleeding is severe, hospitalisation may be necessary, especially if the patient goes into shock,” explains Healthy Living.
“Hypovolemic shock occurs when about 40 percent of the body’s blood is lost. This is a serious condition and must be treated immediately with IV fluids and possibly blood transfusions.”
Because fatty liver disease symptoms are slow to develop a great portion of society is unknowingly living with unhealthy amounts of fat in their liver. Any unusual bodily changes should therefore be probed as soon as they appear.
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