Kidney Pain After Drinking Alcohol: How Worried Should You Be?

What causes kidney pain after drinking alcohol? How dangerous is kidney pain and does it require a trip to the doctor? We have the details on how alcohol affects your kidneys, and what health conditions may arise from excessive drinking.

The most detrimental effect of alcohol overconsumption, aside from any personal or psychological problems that arise, is the impact alcohol has on our detox organs: the liver and the kidneys. Imbibing a harmful substance like alcohol regularly overtaxes these organs with the effort of clearing out the poison, opening us up to certain risk factors associated with alcohol abuse. Heavy drinkers or those who engage in binge drinking are doing even more harm than those who drink in moderation, and alcohol abuse could lead to serious kidney problems. If you experience kidney pain after drinking alcohol, we have the information you need on the possible causes.

How the Kidneys Function and Where They Are Located

Our kidneys are part of the system known as the urinary tract, which also includes our bladders and ureters. Kidney health is essential for filtering toxins and waste out of our blood and transferring those substances to our urine for elimination from the body. The kidneys also keep our electrolyte and fluid levels balanced, and they are directly impacted by the excessive intake of alcohol.

Our kidneys are vital to our survival, and luckily they are one of many paired organs and parts our bodies have, like our eyes, ears, testes/ovaries, lungs, limbs, adrenal glands, and more. What’s fortunate about that is it’s quite possible to live with only one kidney, a fact that allows healthy, living people to donate one of their kidney organs to save the life of someone who has lost the use of both.

The kidneys are about the size of our fists and are located below the rib cage on either side of our spines. Kidney pain may be experienced as back pain, but if there is kidney damage resulting from alcohol use, other symptoms may occur. We review the symptoms of kidney damage and kidney failure further along in this article, but first let’s discuss how alcohol interacts with the kidneys.

Alcohol’s Effect on the Kidneys

According to the National Kidney Foundation, alcohol harms the kidneys in the following ways.

  • Interruption of function: High blood alcohol levels can cause changes in the function of the kidneys, interrupting the prime objective of these organs, which is filtering the blood.
  • Interference with fluid levels: Another principle role of the kidneys is fluid regulation, and alcohol as a diuretic forces frequent urination and causes dehydration and possible kidney stone formation (more information on kidney stones below).
  • Elevated blood pressure: Consumption of alcohol frequently causes high blood pressure, which increases the risk of kidney disease and other cardiovascular health problems.
  • Interrelated liver damage: Chronic alcohol consumption can cause liver disease and liver failure, disrupting the rate of blood flow between it and the kidneys and detrimentally impacting all of them.

Some of these impacts won’t be felt until they cause you pain, or lead to other health conditions with recognizable symptoms. If you suspect you’ve overdone it on alcoholic beverages, seek medical advice before being prompted by severe pain: your doctor may be able to detect the early signs of kidney stressors before they cause irreversible damage.

Alcohol's Effect on the Kidneys

Kidney Pain After Drinking Alcohol: Symptoms

Here is a list of symptoms that may indicate there is something wrong with your kidneys. Seek medical advice for a specific diagnosis if you experience:

  • Stabbing or dull pain in your mid-lower back (on either or both sides)
  • Pain between the buttocks
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Worsening kidney-area pain after sleeping
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in urine

Kidney Pain After Drinking Alcohol: Possible Causes

Here are some of the potential causes of alcohol-related kidney pain.

1. Dehydration

Because alcohol is a diuretic, it can cause severe dehydration when over-consumed, and in fact dehydration is one of the biggest culprits in causing the symptoms of a hangover (like headache). When we drink alcohol in excess, it overrides our kidneys in the area of water retention and balance, not only flushing more water than necessary out of our systems, but also the vitamins, salts, and electrolytes we need along with that water. This is why many a hangover recovery involves drinking a sports drink full of electrolytes or (more problematically) a hair-of-the-dog cure in the form of a spicy Bloody Mary.

Extreme dehydration can cause palpable kidney pain. Water is the best cure for dehydration, while sugary drinks should be avoided after a hard night of drinking. In severe cases, you may need to visit a doctor for an IV fluid.

2. Kidney Stones

When worrying about how alcohol affects the kidneys, many wonder, “Can alcohol cause kidney stones?” Dehydration can, and excessive alcohol consumption quickly induces dehydration.

When there isn’t enough fluid available to filter out certain substances like calcium or uric acid through urine, those substances will deposit in the kidneys and form into stones. Not only can alcohol contribute to the formation of the stones, but if you have kidney stones already, extreme dehydration can also cause them to move, resulting in kidney pain and (if they’re small enough to pass without medical intervention) pain throughout your urinary tract.

If you suspect you have kidney stones, increase your water consumption and consult with a medical professional for assistance and possible medication to help break them up. According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney stone diagnoses may involve blood tests, urine tests, imaging tests, and tests on any passed stone to analyze its content in the hopes that such information will help prevent future stones from forming.

3. Hydronephrosis

Hydronephrosis is a condition characterized by one (or two) swollen kidneys, filled with urine due to an obstruction or blockage of the urinary tract. This could be caused by kidney stones, and may present with flank pain or an inability to urinate.

This condition requires immediate medical attention, and treatment may involve antibiotics if the blockage is caused by a kidney infection instead of kidney stones.

4. Kidney Infection

A kidney infection can come about due to a number of causes, including bacteria that enters through the urethra and bladder, and then moves up to one (or both) kidneys. This would be a UTI (urinary tract infection), and drinking alcohol can worsen the severity of a UTI.

A UTI can be a minor infection, but if it travels to and takes hold in the kidneys, it can cause lasting kidney damage and even kidney failure if it isn’t treated successfully in time. It’s important not to hesitate in seeking advice from a health care professional, and it may be advisable to abstain from drinking if you have a UTI, and definitely if you are taking antibiotics to treat a UTI or any other infection.

5. Liver or Kidney Disease

Liver disease and kidney disease are conditions that can be caused by long-term alcohol abuse, sometimes as part of end-stage alcoholism and death. While it’s not a concern after one night of binge drinking, if you habitually over-imbibe, the damages can accumulate in the liver and cause fatty liver disease or scarring that leads to cirrhosis. Once the liver becomes compromised, the blood flow to the kidneys is interrupted, instigating a domino effect of vital organ damage and possible shutdown.

Should kidney disease develop, it could be due to alcohol or other contributing health conditions that alcohol exacerbates, including high blood sugar, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, which, like liver failure, can sometimes only be reversed by organ transplantation.

Don’t Kid Around with Kidney Function

Excessive drinking can lead to very painful and serious health consequences, and while there are natural ways to support your kidney health with a kidney flush diet, as Benjamin Franklin once pointed out, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The best thing you can do to prevent kidney damage caused by heavy drinking is to detox from alcohol and either quit drinking entirely or drink only in moderation. Swapping hard liquor drinks for low-alcohol beer and wine can help you avoid drinking too much alcohol, as can making sure you stay adequately hydrated. Drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink to help balance out the amount of alcohol consumed. If you do drink, be sure to drink responsibly, for the sake of your kidneys and your quality of life.

The Truth Behind the Apple Cider Vinegar Fatty Liver Detox, Plus Science-Based Advice on Improving Liver Health

Advocates claim that conducting a cleanse with apple cider vinegar helps to flush toxins from the body, regulate blood sugar levels, and encourage healthy weight loss, all of which can improve liver health. However, there’s little scientific support for these claims. Read on for clear, evidence-based information about fatty liver disease, why some people believe apple cider vinegar can effectively treat this condition, and what steps to take to protect and improve your liver health.

Given that pharmaceutical companies have yet to devise a drug to treat fatty liver disease, it’s hardly surprising how much interest there is in natural remedies for this condition. One popular example of this type of home remedy is the apple cider vinegar fatty liver detox. Advocates claim that conducting a cleanse with apple cider vinegar helps to flush toxins from the body, regulate blood sugar levels, and encourage healthy weight loss, all of which can improve liver health. However, there’s little scientific support for these claims.

Read on for clear, evidence-based information about fatty liver disease, why some people believe apple cider vinegar can effectively treat this condition, and what steps to take to protect and improve your liver health.

What Is Fatty Liver Disease?

Before describing fatty liver disease, let’s establish what normal, healthy liver function looks like. The liver, the largest of the internal organs, carries out a host of absolutely vital functions, such as:

  • Cleansing toxins from the bloodstream
  • Metabolizing nutrients
  • Processing lipids and amino acids

When you consume foods that contain protein, your liver uses enzymes (specifically, deaminases and transaminases) to convert the amino acids your body absorbs from the protein into the most bioavailable, utilizable forms. The liver also converts excess carbohydrates into fatty acids and other substances that the body can use as energy sources or store as fat to be used at a later date. A small percentage of those fat molecules get stored in the liver itself.

Factors such as chronic alcohol abuse, long-term drug use, nutritional deficiencies, and metabolic disorders can all interfere with your liver’s ability to fulfill its many essential functions. One of the ways this manifests is that the liver begins to increase the amount of fat stored in its cells. At the moment the amount of fat stored in the liver reaches the threshold of 5% to 10% of total liver volume, an official diagnosis of fatty liver disease (or hepatic steatosis) can be made.

The Two Main Types of Fatty Liver Disease

Though the physical effects of fatty liver disease remain consistent across types, it’s valuable to have an understanding of the different pathophysiologies, as that influences how the body responds to treatment.

There are two primary types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

As the name indicates, alcoholic fatty liver disease arises due to long-term alcohol abuse. Scientists have known for centuries that over-consumption of alcohol leads to liver disease. The majority of the metabolization of alcohol transpires in the liver, making it quite susceptible to alcohol-related injury.

In the first stage of alcoholic liver disease (also called alcoholic steatohepatitis), the liver begins to struggle to break down fatty acids. This can result in high serum triglyceride levels, inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and the development of scars in the liver tissue (cirrhosis).

Early intervention can, in some cases, allow the liver to cleanse itself, thereby naturally reversing the buildup of fat. Subsequently, it can function normally once more. Refraining from the consumption of all types of alcohol for a 2-week period can be sufficient, if this step is taken shortly after liver dysfunction sets in.

The longer the accumulation of fat in the liver goes on, the more extensive the related damage, and the greater the likelihood of long-term impairment of liver function, permanent scarring, and liver failure.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 

Alcohol consumption is not the only risk factor for the development of liver disease. Other health considerations can also cause fat to build up in the liver, such as:

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Aging
  • Increased body weight, particularly the development of deposits of belly fat

These can also interfere with the body’s insulin sensitivity, and when the body does not properly register the presence of insulin, it responds to the perceived deficit by accelerating its innate insulin production process. This results in elevated insulin levels, which can set off a cascade of ill-effects, including high blood pressure, elevated serum triglyceride levels, and—you guessed it—the accumulation of fat in the liver.

Nonalcholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can be limited to the presence of excess fat in the liver, with very little inflammation and liver damage apart from that, or it can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which involves both liver inflammation and damage. As is the case for liver disease stemming from alcohol abuse, NAFLD and NASH can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure. Experts estimate that between 80 and 100 million Americans have NAFLD, though many of them are not aware of that due to the fact that it’s largely asymptomatic.

14 Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

Diagnosing Fatty Liver Disease

Because the early stages of fatty liver disease are often unaccompanied by clear physical indicators, many people do not realize they have the condition until it’s progressed to a more advanced stage or until unrelated medical tests reveal liver dysfunction.

The challenge of detecting fatty liver disease is increased by the fact that blood tests, one of the most common methods of screening for chronic diseases, do not always accurately reflect the health of the liver. Fatty liver disease can cause liver enzyme levels to become elevated, but it’s also entirely possible for individuals with liver disease to have entirely normal enzyme levels, even when the disease progresses to the point of cirrhosis.

Ultrasound may be a more reliable way to diagnose fatty liver, according to a 2018 hospital-based, cross-sectional study published in the Journal of International Medical Research. The authors state that ultrasound’s “sensitivity and specificity in detecting moderate to severe fatty liver are comparable to those of histology [liver biopsy],” a far more invasive procedure. Ultrasound offers doctors a non-invasive way to screen for liver disease in individuals who do not show signs of the disease but may nevertheless be at risk, thereby ensuring they get earlier access to treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

As fatty liver disease advances and liver function becomes increasingly poor, signs and symptoms do begin to appear. One clear indication of liver disease is altered amino acid metabolism—because of this, supplementing with amino acids (particularly, branched-chain amino acids) can significantly enhance liver health. We’ll share more on that later in the section on proven treatments for fatty liver disease, but first, let’s go over other indicators of liver disease.

Clinical evidence indicates that the following symptoms may point to the presence of liver disease.

  • Pain and tenderness in the upper-right abdomen, due to liver enlargement
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Weakness
  • Itchiness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Spider veins (clusters of blood vessels that resemble spider webs)
  • Confusion and difficulty focusing
  • Ascites (abdominal pain and swelling)
  • Edema (swelling of the legs)
  • Gynecomastia

What Is the Apple Cider Vinegar Fatty Liver Detox?

If you’re serious about improving the health of your liver, you have likely looked into various liver cleanses. There’s little data to support the supposed beneficial effects associated with several players in this realm, including lemon juice, green tea, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar (ACV).

Made from apples that have been mashed, distilled, and fermented, apple cider vinegar has been rumored to have detoxifying properties for centuries. As scientists have analyzed apple cider vinegar’s efficacy as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, they’ve concluded that the high levels of acetic acid and other compounds it contains may indeed influence human health, though exactly how they do so remains somewhat obscure.

Advocates of the detoxifying properties of apple cider vinegar claim that it can:

  • Flush toxins from the body
  • Facilitate weight loss
  • Bring the body’s pH into balance
  • Even out blood sugar levels
  • Drop high cholesterol into the healthy range

Given that, it’s understandable why those same advocates would believe you can use apple cider vinegar to treat fatty liver disease.

4 Safety Tips for Those Interested in Trying the Apple Cider Vinegar Fatty Liver Detox

Scientific Studies on Apple Cider Vinegar and Liver Health

Researchers have confirmed that the substances we eat and drink can both improve and undermine the body’s natural detoxification processes. What’s less clear, however, is whether apple cider vinegar specifically has a beneficial impact on liver health.

Some research has been conducted on proposed ACV benefits relevant to liver health, but the results are far from conclusive.

Weight Loss

This is perhaps the most hyped benefit of apple cider vinegar. Much of the excitement surrounding ACV’s weight-loss benefits can be traced back to a 2009 study done by a Japanese research team. The researchers found that daily consumption of vinegar resulted in modest reductions to:

  • Body weight
  • Visceral and subcutaneous fat mass
  • Serum triglyceride levels

However, the study did not look at the use of ACV in particular (though the researchers did cite ascetic acid and previous animal studies on its benefits).

A very small study from 2007 looked at the effect of apple cider vinegar on gastric emptying rate (GER) for 10 individuals with type 1 diabetes. They found that participants who paired a cup of water with 2 tablespoons of ACV mixed in with their serving of pudding had slower rates of gastric emptying than those who simply drank a cup of water. Slower gastric empyting can correlate with increased fullness, which can in turn led to weight loss. However, as the study authors themselves noted in their conclusion: “Clearly, a larger, randomized trial involving a greater number of patients would be needed to validate the findings of this pilot study.”

All in all, the enthusiasm about apple cider vinegar’s ability to encourage weight loss has yet to be corroborated by hard facts.

Cholesterol Levels

As we touched on in the previous section, the 2009 study did find some improvements to cholesterol levels, specifically, to serum triglyceride levels. However, that was not the primary focus of the study.

A small Iranian study that enrolled 19 participants with hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels) found that 8 weeks of apple cider vinegar consumption “significantly reduced harmful lipids, i.e., total cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride, in blood samples of hyperlipidemic individuals who had never used any lipid-lowering drugs.”

While those are certainly promising results, further studies with larger and more diverse enrollment need to be conducted before arriving at firm conclusions about ACV’s impact on cholesterol levels.

Blood Sugar Regulation

There’s some evidence to suggest that drinking apple cider vinegar can prevent blood sugar spikes associated with carbohydrate consumption. Controlling blood sugar levels is of paramount importance for individuals with diabetes, who also face a higher risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

A small study that enrolled four men and seven women with type 2 diabetes (all of whom were not taking insulin to control their condition) found that ingesting apple cider vinegar before bedtime had a favorable effect on waking glucose levels. However, as is true of the studies on the benefits of ACV cited in the earlier sections, the findings are limited by the study’s small sample size.

Negative Side Effects Associated with the Apple Cider Vinegar Fatty Liver Detox

Given that there’s no conclusive evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar to treat fatty liver, those interested in trying this treatment should carefully weigh the potential negative side effects against the benefits they hope to achieve.

One of the most common issues associated with apple cider vinegar consumption is the erosion of tooth enamel. A 2014 study designed to evaluate the effects of different types of vinegar on tooth enamel found between 1% and 20% mineral loss (depending on the pH of the vinegar) after 4 hours of exposure. However, this study was done in a laboratory, so it’s not entirely clear how those results would translate into real-life scenarios.

To be safe, those interested in adding ACV to their wellness routines should put one or more of following precautions in place:

  • Carefully monitor the amounts consumed
  • Mix with a glass of water
  • Rinse mouth after drinking
  • Use a straw

Because of its acidic nature, ACV has also been known to upset stomachs, yet another reason to dilute it in water. If you have a sensitive stomach, be sure to pair your doses of ACV with food.

It’s also important to note that apple cider vinegar can interact with certain medications, such as insulin, digoxin, and diuretics. If you currently take prescription drugs, it’s best to consult a doctor before taking ACV.

4 Proven Ways to Treat Fatty Liver Disease

While the evidence backing the use of the apple cider vinegar fatty liver detox can be characterized overall as weak, there are other natural methods for supporting and restoring liver health with much more robust scientific backing.

The best method for you will depend on the factors that have compromised your liver health, but it’s likely to involve shifts to your diet, increased physical activity and, potentially, weight loss. There are also some supplements that have been shown to produce measurable improvements to liver health.

1. Diet

Research has shown that diet has a strong impact on your risk of developing many health conditions, including fatty liver disease. Certain foods can hinder liver health, such as:

  • Trans fats
  • Simple sugars
  • Red meat
  • Salt
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods

Eating other foods, though, can bring about significant health benefits. In general, a good fatty liver diet will include plenty of high-fiber plant foods and very minimal amounts of sugar, salt, and both trans and saturated fats. Even if alcohol is not the root cause of your liver problems, it’s essential to cut it out of your diet once your liver function has been harmed.

Those already dealing with liver problems, or interested in avoiding liver problems altogether, should be sure to include the following foods in their diets.

  • Green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, which studies found prevented fat from accumulating in the liver
  • Tofu, because soy protein has been shown to decrease fat buildup in the liver
  • Omega-3 rich fish, like salmon, trout, and tuna, since scientists have discovered polyunsaturated fatty acids substantially improve liver health on multiple levels
  • Nuts and seeds, especially sunflower seeds, which contain high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant proven to combat oxidative stress and halt the progression of liver disease

2. Physical Activity

To date, studies have shown that physical activity plays an overwhelmingly positive role in treating fatty liver disease. Per a 2018 review of 30 randomized controlled trials, “Physical inactivity is related to the severity of fatty liver disease irrespective of body weight.” After reviewing the 30 trials, the authors concluded that data supports the common-sense conclusion that increasing physical activity improves liver health. It appears that exercise affects the development of fatty liver disease across multiple pathways.

Exercise has been shown to:

  • Decrease insulin resistance
  • Reduce excessive transport of fatty acids and glucose to the liver
  • Increase fatty acid oxidation
  • Decrease fatty acid synthesis
  • Stymie the release of molecules that cause mitochondrial and hepatocellular damage

Both aerobic exercise and resistance exercise produce these positive effects.

3. Weight Loss

Carrying around excess body fat does elevate your risk of developing fatty liver disease. And conversely, losing even a small amount of weight can translate to major liver health improvements. According to a 2016 study, weight loss as achievable as 3% to 6% can decrease liver fat by between 35% and 40%.

4. Supplements

While lifestyle changes involving diet and physical activity produce the most profound effects on liver health, certain supplements do have scientifically validated liver health benefits. Three options we consider to be worthwhile are: milk thistle, turmeric, and amino acids.

Milk Thistle

This herbal remedy for fatty liver disease has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifibrotic (meaning, it reduces the formation of scar tissue) properties.

According to a study done by an Italian research team, silybin, the primary active compound found in milk thistle extract, has “a remarkable biological effect.” It can reduce liver damage associated with chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. It has also been shown to increase cellular vitality and decrease the accumulation of liver fat, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Turmeric

According to a systematic review published in 2019, turmeric and its active compound curcumin may decrease the severity of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, the authors note that all the trials they analyzed had small sample sizes, leading them to deem turmeric a “promising, but not proven” treatment for NAFLD.

A study published in Integrative Medicine Research in that same year looked specifically at the findings of randomized controlled trials on the use of turmeric and curcumin supplementation on NAFLD in adult patients. The primary outcomes analyzed were levels of two specific liver enzymes, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). The meta-analysis, which included results from a combined total of 228 subjects, found a significant reduction of ALT concentrations among participants who took at least 1,000 milligrams of curcumin daily. This lead the researchers to conclude that high doses of curcumin appear to have a favorable effect on NAFLD, though further large-scale, high-quality studies should be done to confirm that effect.

Amino Acids

A wealth of research supports the benefits of regular amino acid supplementation for individuals who have fatty liver, or who are at risk of developing the condition.

According to a 2018 study, taurine (a sulfur-containing amino acid) can prevent the accumulation of fatty acids in the livers of mice fed high-fat diets. Taurine also prevented oxidative damage and negative changes to liver enzyme levels. These effects led the study’s authors to conclude that taurine could have “therapeutic value” for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

A 2012 study, also done with mice, looked at the use of the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The researchers found that supplementing with BCAAs in the early stages of fatty liver disease can slow the progression of the disease—specifically, by decreasing liver fibrosis as well as liver cell death.

Another sulfur-containing amino acid, cysteine—available in supplement form as N-acetylcysteine (NAC)—has antioxidant properties to rival those of taurine. Per a 2010 clinical trial, participants who received NAC had significantly improved results in terms of levels of alanine aminotransfrase, aspartate aminotransfrase, and alkaline phosphatase as well as fat buildup and other measurements of liver function. Based on the results achieved at the 3-month mark, the researchers concluded that NAC can improve liver function in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and that better results may be achievable with longer use.

Given what scientists have uncovered about the synergistic effects of amino acids, it’s likely that the positive results achieved via supplementation with single amino acids could be amplified when taken in concert with an amino acid supplement that contains all nine essential amino acids. The essential amino acids work together to facilitate the body’s biological processes, and providing a properly balanced supply of all the necessary building blocks not only safeguards and enhances the health of the liver, but also of the entire body.

Proven Methods for Treating Fatty Liver Disease

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, the high level of interest in natural remedies for fatty liver disease has led to the proliferation of some less than verifiable claims about certain treatment approaches.

While there’s limited evidence to support the use of the apple cider vinegar fatty liver detox, the evidence that exists comes largely from studies done with animal subjects or with very limited enrollment. Plus, none of the studies focused specifically on the impact of ACV on liver health, but rather on effects related to linked health conditions such as excess body fat, high cholesterol levels, and poor blood sugar regulation.

It’s also important to note that the apple cider vinegar fatty liver detox can have adverse side effects, such as the erosion of tooth enamel, stomach upset, and dangerous interactions with prescription drugs.

Given all that, the wisest choice is likely to try a natural treatment for fatty liver that has more substantial scientific backing. Effectively addressing fatty liver disease will likely require adopting a fatty liver diet and increasing your physical activity level, and may necessitate losing weight too. Incorporating supplements proven to improve liver health, like milk thistle, turmeric, and amino acids, can also be a valuable part of a fatty liver treatment plan.

When It Comes to Early Treatment of Fatty Liver, Ultrasound Detection Could Be Key

Fatty liver disease poses a serious public health challenge, in part due to the fact that it remains largely asymptomatic until the later stages. This makes identifying a noninvasive method for early detection of fatty liver disease a top clinical priority. Read on to learn why experts agree ultrasound has many advantages as a method for screening the general population for fatty liver disease.

Experts estimate that approximately 100 million individuals in the United States meet the criteria for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, though most of them don’t know it. That’s because the early stages of fatty liver are often asymptomatic, meaning that a person has no indication they do not have a healthy, normal liver until the disease has progressed into more advanced stages. A key element of reversing this trend is finding ways to incorporate screening for fatty liver into routine clinical practice. Of the methods currently available for detecting fatty liver, ultrasound stands out as a noninvasive assessment option that efficiently and reliably detects the disease.

What Is Fatty Liver?

The liver, the largest internal organ, metabolizes nutrients and filters toxins from the bloodstream. It plays an especially active role not only in how your body digests fat, but also in how it produces and utilizes it. When the balance between those activities becomes skewed, fat builds up in the liver. As fat accumulates in the liver, it creates inflammation in the liver cells, which can lead to impaired liver function and scarring of liver tissue. If the disease is allowed to progress unchecked, it can ultimately progress to liver failure.

There are two primary types of fatty liver: alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The former refers to the development of fatty liver in individuals with high levels of alcohol use, and the latter refers to the disease when it develops without heavy alcohol consumption.

In the absence of excessive alcohol intake, the most common underlying cause of fatty liver is insulin resistance. A number of factors can impair the body’s sensitivity to insulin, such as:

  • Increased body weight
  • Aging
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Large fat deposits in the abdominal area

If the body cannot appropriately detect the presence of insulin, then it increases its own insulin production. Rising levels of insulin can cause other issues such as:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • High triglyceride levels
  • Accumulation of fat in the liver

Typically, individuals in the early stages of fatty liver disease have no perceptible symptoms. If the liver becomes sufficiently enlarged, they may begin to sense a mild ache or tenderness where it’s located in the upper-right abdomen.

The Link Between Insulin Resistance and Fatty Liver Disease

If individuals are able to address the insulin resistance that causes fat to build up in the liver, then it’s typically possible to restore full liver health without any lasting serious consequences. However, if the condition is not detected, then it can progress to a more serious form of fatty liver—non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This is the stage at which inflammation of the liver as well as liver fibrosis (scarring) occur. This form of fatty liver can then cause cirrhosis and even liver failure.

What Happens When Fatty Liver Progresses to Cirrhosis?

As touched on above, fatty liver usually causes no noticeable symptoms. However, once it progresses from NAFLD to NASH to cirrhosis, symptoms begin to appear. Cirrhosis demarcates the point at which liver scarring becomes quite severe. Hallmark symptoms of cirrhosis include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Itchiness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Spider veins (clusters of blood vessels that resemble spider webs)
  • Confusion and difficulty focusing
  • Ascites (abdominal pain and swelling)
  • Edema (swelling of the legs)
  • Gynecomastia

In most  cases, cirrhosis develops because of a long-term viral hepatitis C infection or ongoing alcohol abuse. However, untreated NAFLD can also progress to cirrhosis.

If cirrhosis is not effectively treated, it progresses to end-stage liver disease, which will prove fatal if a liver transplant does not occur in time. While it’s not possible to reverse the scarring that occurs, you can minimize its impact and prevent future scarring from taking place. The key to doing so is taking every possible opportunity to cleanse your liver and support its health and functioning. To learn more about managing a cirrhosis diagnosis, read this article.

11 Symptoms of Cirrhosis

For Early Detection of Fatty Liver, Ultrasound Could Be Key

Studies show that ultrasound images offer a reliable, efficient method for diagnosing fatty liver. According to a 2018 hospital-based, cross-sectional study published in the Journal of International Medical Research, ultrasound’s “sensitivity and specificity in detecting moderate to severe fatty liver are comparable to those of histology [liver biopsy],” a far more invasive procedure.

Preventing NAFLD from progressing to cirrhosis and even liver failure requires effective risk stratification and the development of strategic treatment plans. In order to do that, doctors need to evaluate:

  • How much fat has accumulated in the liver
  • Whether the liver is inflamed, and if so, to what degree
  • Whether scarring is present, and if it is, how severe

Liver biopsy has historically been the preferred method for confirming a diagnosis of fatty liver and developing a treatment plan. However, non-invasive imaging methods like ultrasound allow doctors to screen individuals who do not yet show signs of liver disease, allowing those in the early stages of NAFLD to access treatment faster.

Both B-mode ultrasonography (US) as well as ultrasound elastography (USE) can be used for this purpose. Ultrasound elastography even allows doctors to evaluate degrees of inflammation and scarring, vital pieces of information relevant to disease progression and treatment selection.

Medical professionals have determined that imaging tests like liver ultrasound have multiple advantages over both liver biopsy and blood tests to measure serum biomarkers, such as:

  • Non-invasiveness
  • Evaluation of a greater volume of fat accumulation in the liver
  • Less variability
  • More quantitive data

Ultrasonography

Conventional ultrasonography (US) is widely available, affordable, and noninvasive. Because of this, it’s common for US to be the first method used to clinically evaluate fatty liver, particularly when doctors want to screen for suspected NAFLD.

Key features found on ultrasound images that indicate fatty liver disease include:

  • Hepatomegaly, meaning the liver is visibly enlarged
  • Increased echogenicity, indicating the surface bouncing the echo can reflect increased sound waves
  • Intrahepatic vascular blurring, referring to blurred images of blood vessels in the liver

Ultrasound Elastography

Ultrasound elastography (USE), like conventional ultrasound, is widely available and relatively inexpensive. It’s attracted a high level of interest due to utility as a noninvasive method of assessing liver stiffness.

The theory supporting its use is that tissue stiffness can be used as a measure of the presence and degree of liver fibrosis, which in turn indicates how far the disease has progressed.

Currently available USE methods can be divided into two general groups: first, transient elastography, an ultrasound-based technique that does not rely on images and second, and elastography techniques that do use images.

Diagnosing Fatty Liver Disease with Ultrasonography and Ultrasound Elastography

Conventional liver ultrasound and ultrasound elastography can be seen as complementary screening measures as they provide different data points, all of which can be combined to form a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Research on the Use of Ultrasound to Detect Fatty Liver

The Journal of International Medical Research study cited earlier drew its findings from the analysis of 390 health histories, 226 from patients who were diagnosed with fatty liver after master health checkups and 164 who were not. The goal was to determine whether the diagnoses of fatty liver made using ultrasound findings correlated to laboratory blood test parameters for the disease. This, then, would show whether it’s valuable to include ultrasound screening for fatty liver in routine health checkups.

Patients whose ultrasound examinations showed fatty liver were classified as cases and those whose ultrasounds did not were classified as controls. Diagnostic findings from blood tests—lipid profiles [total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)], serum GOT [aspartate transaminase (AST)], serum GPT [alanine transaminase (ALT)], and HbA1c levels—were obtained for both cases and controls when available. HbA1c levels were available for 311 patients, serum GPT levels for 266, and serum GOT for 261.

The authors found that lipid, liver enzyme, and HbA1c levels were all substantially elevated for cases compared to controls. Overall, the findings were consistent with previous studies in that they showed NAFLD to be the most common cause of high blood levels of GPT and GOT. The authors note, too, that NAFLD should not be viewed as “an isolated or random event in metabolic syndrome,” but instead treated as a component of the condition. Furthermore, they state that NAFLD should be regarded as a risk factor for the development of:

They note, too, that ultrasound can help to diagnose fatty liver in patients where it could otherwise be easily overlooked due to an absence of clinical markers that would raise suspicion. For instance, individuals from South Asian countries who develop fatty liver disease often maintain lower body mass indexes than those in European and American countries with the disease. This can cause the results of blood pressure tests to be misleading, as they may show normal levels despite the presence of increased liver fat. Ultrasound screening can be used for mass screening that will identify patients who might otherwise slip through the diagnostic cracks.

Because fatty liver disease tends to be asymptomatic, developing reliable screening methods to identify high-risk NAFLD patients is of paramount importance to managing the disease. Liver biopsy is reliable for diagnostic purposes, but impractical as a screening tool. Ultrasound, however, appears to be near-equal in terms of reliability and it’s far better suited for screening purposes.

How to Prevent, or Treat, Fatty Liver Disease

At this time, no medications exist for the treatment of fatty liver disease. However, it can be both prevented and treated with lifestyle changes. Depending on the underlying cause of the disease as well as a person’s overall health, doctors may recommend adjustments such as:

  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Eating more nutrient-rich foods and avoiding highly processed ones
  • Increasing physical activity

For individuals at risk of developing NAFLD, as well as those with NAFLD, adopting a fatty liver diet will be a crucial part of an effective treatment plan. Unsurprisingly, a central tenet of this diet is limiting consumption of both saturated and trans fats. It also involves completely cutting out alcohol, limiting salt and sugar, eating plenty of high-fiber plant foods, like whole grains and legumes, and upping your intake of fruits and vegetables.

Experts recommend the following foods as ideal components of a fatty liver diet:

  • Green vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, kale, and other green vegetables can help prevent liver fat buildup while supporting weight loss and enhancing your overall health.
  • Fish: Salmon, trout, tuna, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids that can actually lower liver fat levels and decrease liver inflammation.
  • Walnuts: Like fish, walnuts contain concentrated amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve your liver disease prognosis, liver function, and health.
  • Dairy: Studies show that whey protein can protect liver cells from damage linked to NAFLD.
  • Olive oil: This staple of the Mediterranean diet can lower liver enzyme levels and bodyweight, perhaps due to the omega-3 fatty acids it contains.
  • Green tea: Research indicates green tea can enhance liver function and decrease liver fat storage.
  • Coffee: This popular beverage can prevent liver damage associated with fatty liver disease as well as lower levels of liver enzymes.
  • Tofu: Soy proteins found in tofu can reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver.

There’s also some evidence to support the use of certain supplements, including vitamin E, to prevent or treat fatty liver disease. Studies indicate that milk thistle, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, can have a positive effect on liver health. And turmeric, a potent antioxidant, can quell inflammation throughout the body, which can help to reduce your risk of liver disease as well as manage liver disease. To learn more about natural methods for detoxifying the liver, read this article.

Perhaps the most consequential choice you can make to protect or improve your liver health is to supplement with amino acids. According to the work of a team of scientists based in Kyoto, Japan, taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can slow, and potentially halt, the progression of chronic liver disease. After 11 weeks, blood samples showed that rats given BCAAs had liver enzyme levels that were 22% lower than the control group. The researchers also found that levels of the CTGF protein, which correlates to liver fibrosis, were an average of 75% higher in the control group. Even more significantly, markers that indicate rates of cell death, an enzyme called caspase 3 and a protein called albumin, were 100% and 80% higher in the control group.

Studies done with human subjects support the conclusion that amino acid supplements are an effective natural method for treating liver disease.

How to Treat and Prevent Fatty Liver Disease

Key Takeaways About Fatty Liver Disease and Ultrasound

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming an ever more pressing public health challenge, in part due to the fact that it remains largely asymptomatic until the later stages of the disease, and the determinants of the disease have yet to be fully understood. Once the disease reaches the later stages, in which liver fibrosis progresses toward cirrhosis, severe complications can ensue. This makes identifying a noninvasive method for detecting fatty liver disease a top clinical priority. Ultrasound has many advantages as a method for screening the general population for fatty liver disease. It’s efficient, widely available, and has been shown to be as accurate as biopsies, the gold standard for diagnosing liver disease.

Is It Possible to Reverse Liver Cirrhosis Naturally?

How serious is liver cirrhosis, what causes it, and is it possible to reverse? Find out about how to cope with liver cirrhosis naturally.

The liver is one of the most unique organs in our bodies, with an ability to heal in a way that other vital organs cannot. Damage done to the heart, for example, is damage that cannot be undone by your body or by medical technology; it can only be worked around. Likewise with the kidneys: ground lost in kidney functioning is ground that is permanently ceded. However, some people do require liver transplants, indicating that as much as the liver can recover from damage, it can’t completely regenerate after a certain point. Where is the line between reversible damage and irreversible damage? Can you reverse liver cirrhosis naturally, without medications or a transplant? This article explores that question.

Is it possible to reverse cirrhosis naturally?

What Is Cirrhosis of the Liver?

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body (your skin itself is the largest organ overall, but it’s on the outside). The liver’s function is to help digest your food, store energy substances, and detoxify your blood of any impurities, poisons, or toxins that are eaten or otherwise ingested.

You can aid a healthy liver in its detox duties by consuming a liver flush diet. But what can you do to help an already ailing liver? First, it’s important to understand what cirrhosis is and where it falls on the liver damage continuum. What follows are the stages of liver failure.

  • Stage 1: The first stage leading to liver failure is inflammation. The liver becomes inflamed and enlarged when it is overtaxed with too many toxins and cannot filter them out at a high enough rate. Common causes of liver inflammation include viral hepatitis infection, alcohol consumption, autoimmune hepatitis, or poisoning. Sometimes this stage arises without any noticeable symptoms.
  • Stage 2: Fibrosis of the liver is the second stage of liver damage, which involves the appearance of scar tissue on the liver. A little bit of scarring can be overcome, but chronic liver fibrosis is also known as the early stages of cirrhosis. Scarring inhibits liver functioning and starts to threaten a person’s survival rate.
  • Stage 3: Cirrhosis of the liver is the third stage of liver failure, an incredibly serious and life-threatening condition that may have symptoms like jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes and skin), muscle cramps, dry mouth, peripheral edema, abdominal fluid buildup (ascites), and compromised brain function (hepatic encephalopathy).
  • Stage 4: The fourth and final stage is end-stage liver disease. This is often the cause of death in those who are not treated quickly enough or who cannot receive a liver transplant. Blood tests determine who is healthy enough to even be included on the transplant list, and not everyone is eligible.

As you can see, cirrhosis is the last stop before potential end-of-life hospitalization. When scarring of the liver becomes so extensive that it eclipses healthy liver tissue and starts to interrupt blood flow, detoxification, and digestion, medical advice and treatment is an emergency necessity, but can cirrhosis be fixed?

Cirrhosis: Symptoms, Complications, and Prognosis

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that the most common underlying causes of liver scarring and cirrhosis are conditions like chronic hepatitis, long-term alcohol abuse, and cases of diet-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Some of those conditions can be treated or avoided entirely by getting vaccinated, making diet and lifestyle changes, practicing safe sex, and drinking alcohol in moderation, but if the damage is not stopped in time, liver failure and liver cancer may develop, which could end a person’s life.

Cirrhosis Symptoms

It’s important to recognize the symptoms of cirrhosis and liver disease as soon as possible. Those symptoms include:

  • An itching sensation of the skin
  • Swelling in the extremities (edema)
  • Unexplained fatigue or listlessness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach or muscle cramping
  • A tendency to bruise or bleed easily
  • Unusually dark urine
  • Tar-colored or pale stool
  • Cognitive disorientation or confusion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin or sclera of the eyes

Cirrhosis Complications

Regardless of how it comes about (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, alcohol abuse, fatty diet, or genetics), cirrhosis affects up to 10% of the population of the United States, according to the American Liver Foundation. The complications of cirrhosis quickly shorten the lifespan of those diagnosed with this disease. Complications include:

  • The creation of bile duct and gallstones
  • Portal hypertension, edema, and ascites, which can lead to the bacterial infection known as peritonitis
  • Hepatic encephalopathy, which leads to an accumulation of toxins in the brain
  • Diseases like type 2 diabetes and metabolic bone disease due to the interference in digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Weakened immune system and spleen functioning
  • Higher risk of infection, kidney failure, and lung failure
  • Varices, which are enlarged blood vessels in the stomach or esophagus that may burst and cause deadly bleeding
  • A much higher risk of liver cancer

Cirrhosis Prognosis

Unfortunately cirrhosis isn’t curable, but it is treatable. Once you’re aware of the damage being done to the liver, the first priority is to treat and if possible cure the underlying cause, and then to stop the progression of cirrhosis and prevent deadly complications. For alcoholics that means sobriety is key. For those with hepatitis, disease management is the first priority. For those whose liver biopsy shows too much damage to overcome, a liver transplantation may be the only option, but for some, there are natural ways to help your liver cope with cirrhosis.

Is it possible to reverse cirrhosis naturally?

Can You Reverse Liver Cirrhosis Naturally?

As with scar tissue anywhere on or in your body, while you can’t reverse the damage, you may be able to minimize its impact on your life and live around it. What follows now are natural ways to cleanse your liver, support its health and functioning, and strengthen your body so you have the resources to cope with any complications that may arise.

1. Eat a Liver-Cleansing, Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Your liver detoxifies your body, so you can’t exactly detoxify it. What you can do, however, is to avoid poisoning it and provide it with the nutrients it needs to detox itself. That means avoiding alcohol intake entirely, only consuming medicine when you absolutely need to (avoid over-the-counter medications for mild aches and pains if possible), and eating a robust diet of nutrient-rich foods such as:

  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Other steamed veggies like broccoli, carrots, and asparagus
  • Potassium foods like avocados, sweet potatoes, and bananas
  • Natural herbal supplements like ginger, turmeric, milk thistle, or dandelion and burdock root
  • Probiotics like Greek yogurt or sauerkraut
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Cold-pressed oils like coconut and extra virgin olive oil
  • Superfood supplements like wheatgrass, spirulina, and chlorella

Avoid overeating and abstain from unhealthy food substances like refined sugars and carbs, spicy and fried foods, alcohol, and caffeine. If you smoke, now is the time to quit to help preserve your liver function and quality of life.

2. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Obesity and fatty diet are huge contributors to liver disease in the Western world, and if those are the underlying causes of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cirrhosis, they need to be addressed immediately.

Even if weight is not directly tied to cirrhosis (let’s say your cirrhosis is caused by a hepatitis infection), maintaining a healthy weight is still imperative. Obesity is closely linked to high blood pressure, which causes extra strain on your heart and increases your risk factors for diabetes and your cholesterol levels. By focusing on healthy, sustainable weight loss and eliminating obesity as a risk factor, you improve your liver’s health.

3. Guard Against Diseases and Toxins

The best defense is sometimes a good offense, and when it comes to liver disease and liver failure, that means reducing your exposure to toxins (household or industrial chemicals that can damage your liver cells), as well as to diseases like hepatitis (if you’re not already vaccinated, make it a top priority), and checking your medications for anything expired or unnecessary (ask your doctor about any prescriptions or take gentler alternatives to common over-the-counter drugs). By preventing toxins of any kind from reaching your liver, you preserve its remaining healthy tissue.

Managing a Cirrhosis Diagnosis

Cirrhosis cannot be reversed, as it’s the last stage of liver disease before hospitalization is required. However, the preceding stage, liver fibrosis (when scar tissue is still being accumulated), can be stopped before the damage becomes permanently debilitating. You can’t be too careful when it comes to the symptoms of liver damage: the sooner you catch it, the better diagnosis you’ll receive and the longer you’ll be able to live healthily.

End-Stage Alcoholism: The Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Learn about the progressing stages of alcoholism and what end-stage alcohol addiction looks like. Recognizing these symptoms in a family member or loved one could help save his or her life.

Alcohol is a powerful substance with a long and varied history. On one hand alcohol has been a substance of social lubrication and celebration for thousands of years, but on the other it is, in essence, a poison that can lead to addiction and have devastating personal consequences. Alcoholism is a disease that affects up to 1 out of every 8 Americans and contributes to around 88,000 deaths per year. If alcoholism progresses unchecked, it can culminate in end-stage alcoholism and even premature death. This article describes the signs of alcohol addiction and what happens when a loved one reaches the end stages of alcohol abuse.

The Early Signs of Alcoholism

Some people can drink alcohol regularly and never develop an alcohol addiction problem. Others go through periods of alcohol abuse or overuse, for example during college or in times of high stress. Alcohol use disorder can advance over many years, but it contains three distinct stages. We’ll begin with the overview of the initial stages before fully exploring the end-stage symptoms of alcoholism.

Stage One: Social Drinking, Binge Drinking, and Occasional Alcohol Abuse

This first stage of alcoholism is essentially an exploratory stage. When those who ultimately become addicted to alcohol first enter stage one, they often experiment with different kinds of alcohol and test their limits with binge drinking. This is common among young adults, particularly teens and college-aged individuals.

  • For men: Binge drinking is more than 5 alcoholic beverages in a 2-hour window.
  • For women: Consuming 4 or more alcoholic beverages in 2 hours is considered binge drinking.

Playing games meant to accelerate drunkenness (like beer pong) often leads to consuming much more than the above-listed minimum for binge drinking. While chronic, long-term alcohol use is dangerous, so are these short bouts of binge drinking, as they can cause alcohol poisoning, coma, and sometimes death. It also begins an addiction pattern whereby people begin to develop a dependency on the feeling that alcohol provides.

Problematic Alcohol Abuse

Once the habit of drinking escalates past the early stage of social drinking, binge drinking, and excessive partying, the issue progresses to the second stage of alcoholism. This is marked by an emotional dependency on the drug of alcohol. It is less about feeling good at a special event and more about wanting to feel that way all the time. Drinking at this stage occurs to prevent the feelings of acute alcohol withdrawal.

Stage Two: Increased Dependency on Alcohol and Problem Drinking

In the second stage of alcoholism, alcohol consumption increases in frequency and is no longer tied to special events like partying. A person in stage two is likely to start drinking every weekend, and then may increase to drinking every day. The impulse for drinking is no longer to have fun at a party, but may arise from the following desires:

  • To relieve stress
  • As an excuse to bring together friends
  • To relieve boredom
  • To avoid feelings of loneliness or sadness

At this stage, emotions motivate drinking habits, which is what makes regular alcohol use different from otherwise moderate drinking: people become emotionally attached. Instead of the moderate drinker’s glass of wine with a meal, the regular drinker consumes alcohol to feel good, and the more they drink, the more physically and emotionally dependent they become, which can ultimately lead to the development of full-blown alcoholism.

This middle stage also brings about social changes related to the drinking problem: changes in friendships, strife with romantic attachments, erratic social behavior, and increasingly regular failures to uphold certain commitments (like getting to work on time, picking kids up from school, or abstaining from alcohol while pregnant).

The drinker will likely become aware that the effects of heavy drinking (irregular sleep patterns, depression, and anxiety) often make him or her feel sick, but they will still not curb, moderate, or quit the habit. They may begin to experience legal trouble resulting from incidents like public intoxication or drinking and driving.

At this stage, a drinking problem becomes obvious and family members will start to urge their loved one to stop drinking. If they can’t stop with or without intervention, the disease progresses to the next stage.

End-stage alcoholism: signs and symptoms.

End-Stage Alcoholism

The final stage of alcoholism occurs when drinking has consumed the life of the addicted person. They now must drink to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and they must schedule their life around this need. Without getting help with detox and rehab, the addict may drink themselves to death.

Stage Three: Addiction

Alcohol dependency is a habit that can be stopped, but alcohol addiction is characterized by an inability to curb the harmful use of alcohol. This starts to lead to other problems in life, including the following devastating physical health problems.

  • Racing heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Body tremors due to nervous system damage
  • Nausea unrelated to hangovers
  • Severe irritability
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver damage or alcoholic hepatitis

A late-stage or end-stage alcoholic has to drink more and more, not for the enjoyment of alcohol, but to meet a persistent psychological and physiological need. They may be inconsolable until they can resume drinking each day, and may have other drug addictions and compulsive behaviors and rituals surrounding their drinking. They will most likely ignore any and all social conventions, and drink in the daytime, in the morning, alone, at non-alcoholic gatherings, or at work.

Treatment options exist to help end-stage alcoholics with alcohol withdrawal symptoms and social coping mechanisms, and it’s important to seek such treatment to avoid cirrhosis of the liver, liver disease, and liver failure. In the case of liver failure, the person will not be able to survive without a liver transplant, and many hospitals won’t perform a transplant until the patient has been able to abstain from alcohol for at least 6 months. This is not possible for many addicts in the United States, even if they do receive adequate and professional addiction treatment.

The Final Stage

Late stage alcoholism is a scary processes to go through and heartbreaking to observe. When alcohol dependence leads to increased substance abuse and a barrage of detrimental health conditions from blackouts to alcoholic liver disease, many people feel that they are watching a slow-motion car crash they are unable to stop.

Occasionally the last stage of alcoholism comes as a surprise if the addict is what’s known as a high-functioning alcoholic, able to maintain social decorum and maintain employment until the problem has progressed to the final stages of addiction.

It’s important to remember that alcoholism develops over a long period of time, and that being able to recognize the stages of alcoholism in a family member or friend could help save their life by getting them the help of a medical professional before it’s too late. That being said, any stage of alcoholism is dangerous, from initial youthful binge drinking right up to the end stage when people start to experience liver, heart, and brain damage, not to mention malnutrition and mental health disorders (which could lead to suicide).

F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, once wrote of alcoholism, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” That is a very succinct summary of the three stages of alcoholism, including the final stage. Before the drink takes one of your loved ones away from you, know the warning signs of alcohol addiction, and do what you can to help them quit drinking while there’s still time to recover.

D-Mannose: UTI Prevention and Treatment

D-mannose: what is it, how is it useful in preventing and treating UTIs, and where can you find it? All these questions and more answered, along with dosage recommendations based on successful clinical trials. 

If you suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), then you are already well aware that unsweetened cranberry juice is on the top of the home remedy list. You may not know that one of the aspects of cranberry juice that makes it so helpful is a compound known as D-mannose, a type of sugar related to the better-known substance glucose. This simple sugar is found naturally in the body and in a variety of foods, and recent clinical trials are discovering that D-mannose UTI treatment is a promising possibility. Read on to learn more about D-mannose, its other dietary sources, and how it may help those dealing with recurrent UTIs.

D-mannose for UTI treatment and prevention.

Symptoms and Risk Factors of UTI

Urinary tract infections do not always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do those symptoms could include:

  • A persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation during urination
  • Passing small, frequent amounts of urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Pink-, red-, or cola-colored urine (a sign of blood in the urine)
  • Unusually strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain, especially in women, in the center of the pelvis and around the pubic bone

Women are more at risk of developing UTIs because the urethra is shorter in female anatomy, which thus shortens the distance bacteria has to travel to reach the bladder. Sexual activity increases this risk, as well as certain types of birth control like diaphragms and spermicidal agents. Menopause can leave women more vulnerable to UTIs as well, and conditions like diabetes, or requiring the use of a catheter.

What Is D-Mannose for UTI?

D-mannose is a simple sugar, meaning it consists of only one molecule of sugar. While it naturally occurs in your body, D-mannose can also be found in some plants in the form of starch. Fruits and vegetables that contain D-mannose include:

  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Cranberries (and cranberry juice)
  • Green beans
  • Oranges
  • Peaches

D-mannose is also included in certain dietary supplements, and is available as a powder or in capsule form. Some supplements are made exclusively of D-mannose, while others may include additional ingredients like cranberry, hibiscus, dandelion extract, rose hips, or probiotics. D-mannose is often taken to treat or prevent urinary tract infections because it is able to stop specific bacteria from growing inside the urinary tract. The question is: does the use of D-mannose effectively treat UTIs?

The Science Behind D-Mannose UTI Treatment

There is scientific evidence detailing how D-mannose works to combat the bacterium that causes infections in the urinary system. Escherichia coli (E. coli) causes an estimated 90% of UTIs. When E. coli gets into the urinary tract, it latches onto the cells and starts to grow, causing an infection. Researchers believe that D-mannose, whether consumed in foods or ingested via D-mannose supplements, can work to prevent UTIs by stopping the E. coli bacteria from attaching to the cell walls in the first place.

When D-mannose is consumed, it travels through the same digestive pathways as all the other foods you eat, eventually finding its way to your kidneys and urinary tract for elimination from the body. Once arrived, if there are any E. coli bacteria present, D-mannose combines with them before they can attach to your cells, and carries them out of your body during urination.

While there hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of research done on those with chronic or acute urinary tract infections, a few pilot studies show promising support of D-mannose’s potential in preventing and clearing up UTIs.

  • One 2013 clinical trial evaluated the effect of D-mannose supplementation on 308 women who had a history of recurrent UTIs. Over a 6-month period, D-mannose worked about as well as the antibiotic treatment nitrofurantoin, without the potential adverse effect of developing antibiotic resistance.
  • A 2014 study of 60 adult women found that D-mannose, when compared to the antibiotic trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, appeared to be a safe and effective treatment and prevention tool. Not only did D-mannose reduce UTI symptoms in those women with active infections, but it was also more effective than the antibiotic in preventing recurring infections.
  • Another study in 2016 tested D-mannose’s effects on 43 women with active UTIs, observing that by the end of the study, most of the women had improved symptoms.

Where to Buy D-Mannose for a UTI and How to Use It

There are many D-mannose products that are widely available at pharmacies, health food and wellness stores, or for purchase online. When choosing a D-mannose product, keep in mind these three questions:

  • Are you seeking to prevent infection or to treat an active UTI?
  • What is the dose you’ll have to take?
  • What is the type of product you want to consume? (Powder or capsule? D-mannose alone or in a combined supplement?)

D-mannose is most often used for preventing UTIs in people who have them frequently, or for treating the symptoms of active urinary tract infections. How much D-mannose to take for a UTI depends on whether you’re treating or preventing, and based on the dosages used in the above-mentioned clinical research, suggested dosages are:

  • For preventing frequent UTIs: 2 grams of D-mannose once per day, or 1 gram twice per day.
  • For treating active UTIs: 1.5 grams of D-mannose twice per day for 3 days, then once per day for the following 10 days; or 1 gram 3 times per day for 14 days.

As far as the difference between capsules and powders, that is solely up to your personal preference. You may prefer a powder if you don’t like to swallow large capsules, if you want to avoid the fillers that are often included in manufacturers’ products, or if you have dietary restrictions on gelatin capsules. Many products provide you with 500-milligram capsules, meaning you may need to take 2-4 capsules to get the dose you’re looking for. Powder on the other hand would allow you to do your own measuring. D-mannose powder can be dissolved in a glass of water for drinking, or combined into smoothies. The powder easily dissolves, and in plain water D-mannose has a sweet taste.

Possible Side Effects of Taking D-Mannose

Most people taking D-mannose do not experience any side effects, but some have reported loose stools or diarrhea. Those with diabetes should consult a health care professional for medical advice before taking D-mannose, as it is a form of sugar and may need to be carefully monitored in relation to blood sugar levels.

Those with an active UTI should also consult a trusted health care provider, because the ability of D-mannose to treat an active infection for some may not be a sure-fire solution for all. Delaying antibiotic treatment of an active infection could allow enough time for the infection to spread to the kidneys and the blood, resulting in a much more serious medical condition.

D-Mannose Gets an “A” for Effort

While more research needs to be done on D-mannose’s potential for treating UTIs, it’s nevertheless a safe option to try for those who want to prevent UTIs and bladder infections from occurring in the first place. Talk with your doctor about whether this supplement might be the key to arming your immune system against invading urinary tract bacteria.

Serrapeptase: The Science Behind the Supplement

Mostly used by health care professionals in Japan and Europe for reducing inflammation after trauma, surgery, or in other inflammatory circumstances, serrapeptase is also available as a dietary supplement for its various health benefits. Find out what serrapeptase is, how it was discovered, and which of its supposed benefits have the strongest evidence backing them.

Serrapeptase, also known as serratiopeptidase, serratia peptidase, or silk worm enzyme, is an isolated enzyme from bacteria found in silk worms. Mostly used by health care professionals in Japan and Europe for reducing inflammation after trauma, surgery, or in other inflammatory circumstances, it is also available as a dietary supplement for its various health benefits. This article will explore the science behind those health claims, discuss the potential side effects of serrapeptase, and help you decide whether this anti-inflammatory is right for you.

What Is Serrapeptase?

The serrapeptase enzyme is a proteolytic enzyme, which means it has the ability to break down proteins into their building blocks, amino acids. It’s an enzyme produced by the bacteria living in the silk worm’s digestive tract, and specifically it’s the enzyme that allows an emerging moth to dissolve and digest its own cocoon. If you’re the kind of person who finds bugs and worms to be skin-crawlingly gross, it might do you well to think less about where this enzyme comes from, and more about what it and other proteolytic enzymes like bromelain, chymotrypsin, and trypsin can do to benefit you.

Discovered throughout the 1950s, these enzymes were used in the United States to relieve the inflammation caused by ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-surgical swelling. By 1957, the Japanese were using serrapeptase in the same manner, and in the 1990s these different enzymes were compared and it was found that serrapeptase was the most successful at reducing inflammatory responses. Since then it has become more widely used in Europe and Japan for its anti-inflammatory benefits.

The Benefits of Serrapeptase

Though serrapeptase is relatively new to the medicinal scene, there have nevertheless been many studies done to document its effectiveness and safety. Here are some of the benefits that have been observed from the use of serrapeptase.

Serrapeptase supplements: the science and the speculation.

May Reduce Inflammation

This is the health benefit serrapeptase is best known for, reducing inflammation in instances like tooth removal or post-surgery recovery. It’s thought that serrapeptase works by decreasing inflammatory cells at the site of injury. The anti-inflammatory effects of serrapeptase were shown in a clinical trial on the surgical removal of wisdom teeth, and serrapeptase was found to be more effective at improving lockjaw than more powerful drugs like ibuprofen and corticosteroids.

Though corticosteroids improved facial swelling more effectively on the first day post-surgery, the differences on the second day were insignificant. While more research is still needed to define the best uses of serrapeptase going forward, the researchers in the study did note that serrapeptase had a better safety profile than the other drugs analyzed, which may make it particularly useful in cases of drug intolerance in patients, or those who have adverse side effects with stronger drugs.

May Prevent Infections

There is evidence that serrapeptase may decrease the risk of bacterial infection by acting as a “biofilm buster,” so-called because bacteria have the ability to join together and form a protective barrier or film around themselves. The biofilm shields them from antibiotics long enough that their rapid growth can take place and cause infection. Serrapeptase can inhibit the formation of biofilms, increasing the efficacy of antibiotics in cases like Staphylococcus aureus (Staph. aureus), or staph infection, one of the most common opportunistic dangers associated with hospital stays.

Both animal and test-tube studies have shown that serrapeptase combined with antibiotics was more effective than treating Staph. aureus with antibiotics alone, including those strains that have become drug-resistant. An example of a drug-resistant form of staph infection is MRSA (methicillin resistant Staph. aureus), an especially dangerous infection to those who are already hospitalized in immune-compromised states.

May Reduce Pain

Pain being a symptom of inflammation, serrapeptase has been known to reduce pain by inhibiting certain compounds. For example, in one double-blind study that examined the effects of serrapeptase in about 200 people with inflammatory conditions of the ear, nose, and throat, researchers found that those who took a serrapeptase supplement had significant reductions in mucus production and pain severity than did those who took a placebo.

Another study found that serrapeptase reduced pain significantly compared to a placebo in 24 participants following the removal of their wisdom teeth. More research is needed for scientists to be sure of serrapeptase’s effects, but these findings show promise for those hoping to avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) after medical procedures.

May Help Dissolve Blood Clots

It is thought that by acting to break down fibrin (a protein formed in blood clots) as well as damaged and dead tissue, the serrapeptase enzyme could help treat atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis involves plaque buildup inside your arteries, which leads to a hardening and narrowing of the arteries and an increased danger from blood clots.

If serrapeptase is successful at dissolving plaque or blood clots, it could reduce a person’s risk of stroke or heart attack. However, not enough studies have been done showing a direct effect, and so while there is potential that serrapeptase has a role in treating blood clots, more research is warranted.

May Be an Aid Against Chronic Respiratory Disease

Chronic respiratory and chronic airway diseases affect the lungs and breathing apparatuses of the body. Serrapeptase’s potential to clear mucus and reduce inflammation in the the lungs could help improve breathing in those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary hypertension, which is a form of high blood pressure in the vessels of your lungs.

These chronic conditions are ongoing and incurable, and yet managing the symptoms effectively (as with increased mucus clearance and better dilation of air passages) can greatly improve a person’s quality of life. One month-long study of 29 participants with chronic bronchitis involved a test group that was given 30 milligrams of serrapeptase per day, which resulted in less mucus production than the control group, better lung-clearing ability, and greater ease of breathing.

May Treat Endometriosis

Due to the potential serrapeptase has for targeting dead tissue and scar tissue throughout the body, some believe there is potential in using serrapeptase for endometriosis treatment. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial cells grow outside the uterus, in the tissues surrounding the pelvic area, causing pain and often issues with fertility.

Likewise with conception issues arising due to ovarian or uterine cysts, serrapeptase for fertility is another natural therapy that currently has more anecdotal evidence than scientific research done on it, though that does not mean the research won’t be done, nor that it wouldn’t be a safe supplement to try in consultation with a qualified health care professional.

May Help Relieve Alzheimer’s Disease

One study on rat models revealed that the proteolytic enzymes nattokinase and serrapeptase may have a therapeutic application in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, modulating the different factors that characterize the disease. Oral application of these enzymes provided a decrease in transforming growth factor, acetylcholinesterase activity, and interleukin-6, all of which are found in high levels among patients with Alzheimer’s disease. While more research still needs to be done, Alzheimer’s is a medical condition that needs any relief options available.

Potential Serrapeptase Side Effects

Because it’s such a new commodity, people are rightly concerned that there could be potential serrapeptase dangers. There are not many published studies touching on potential adverse reactions to taking serrapeptase, however some studies have reported the following side effects.

As there is a lack of data on the long-term safety and tolerability of this enzyme, should any side effect occur after you take it, you should stop immediately and seek medical advice. What works for some may not work for all, and so your judgement is paramount when it comes to whether you’re getting the benefits you want.

How to Take Serrapeptase

It’s advised against taking serrapeptase with any sort of blood thinner, or other dietary supplements like turmeric, garlic, or fish oil which could increase a risk of bruising or bleeding. For serrapeptase dosage, it’s recommended to take between 10-60 milligrams per day (the range used within the various studies) on an empty stomach, and to avoid eating for at least 30 minutes afterwards.

When purchasing the supplement, choose a product in an enteric-coated capsule to prevent your stomach acid from neutralizing the enzyme before it reaches your intestine. Without a strong enough capsule, the enzymatic activity could be deactivated before it has a chance to work.

How long does it take serrapeptase to work after you take it? For pain and swelling it can have immediate effects post-surgery, but for more gradual or ongoing treatments, the effects might be felt over a period of weeks. It truly depends on your condition, your health, and how you’re using the supplement.

The Secrets of Serrapeptase

Our understanding of serrapeptase is far from comprehensive at this moment. There is one study linking it to treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and anecdotal evidence suggesting serrapeptase for weight loss (albeit temporary). There are far more clinical studies on the use of serrapeptase for reducing inflammation, fighting infections, and preventing blood clots, but researchers are still exploring its uses. Should you be interested in seeing what serrapeptase supplementation can do for you, we only ask that you do so wisely, and with a willingness to consult a medical professional about any results you find, be they bad or good.

Unexplained Weight Loss: What Could It Mean?

Unexplained weight loss could be due to dangerous underlying causes, from infections, to disorders, to conditions as serious as congestive heart failure and cancer. 

Under normal circumstances, people have to work hard to control their weight, whether they’re trying to slim down or bulk up. Sudden, noticeable, weight loss is often a symptom of an underlying health concern, and unexplained weight loss is even more worrying, as it could be an indication that something is wrong with your body, but is currently undiagnosed. This article will detail some of the usual suspects behind unintentional weight loss, so you can better understand how important it is to identify the underlying cause.

How Much Weight Loss Is Concerning?

It’s common to fluctuate between 1-3 pounds per day according to your scale; those are just the vagaries of water weight. However, a loss of 10 pounds or more (or 5% of your body weight) over a 6-12 month period with no known reason warrants concern. If you’ve changed your habits, changed your diet, or undergone a change in life that could explain the reduction in weight, then it may not be that unusual, but you may benefit from asking yourself some questions.

  • Did you start a new job?
  • Did you move to a new area?
  • Are you under some known form of stress (whether happy or unfortunate—i.e. planning a wedding or caring for a sick loved one).
  • Has there been a change in your relationship status?

It’s important to know, because while this sort of steady weight loss would be welcome if you’d changed your diet with the intention to lose weight (by transitioning from processed to whole foods for example), if no alterations to your diet or lifestyle have been made and your weight has still gone down this dramatically, there may be some serious underlying reasons.

Losing Weight Without Trying: Am I Sick?

Unexplained weight loss could be the first sign of sickness, yes. You should contact a doctor or health care professional right away to seek evaluation, as the causes for unexplained weight loss can be quite serious, from infections, to thyroid issues, to the terrifying prospect of cancer (but please don’t go to the extreme scenario…just go to a doctor!).

The good news is that doctors quickly find the cause of abnormal weight loss in over 75% of cases. In fact, even if you think you know the cause, something like general stress and anxiety could be masking a physical health problem, and you should make an appointment to be sure this weight loss isn’t caused by a combination of issues or that it isn’t taxing your health in other ways.

If the first examination isn’t thorough enough, seek a second opinion to rule out other causes. Blood tests, a urinalysis, a thyroid panel, liver and kidney function tests, a blood sugar test, or imaging studies may need to be done to make sure there are no red flags in your health profile.

Your doctor may ask:

  • Have you made any changes in your exercise or diet recently?
  • Has this sort of weight loss ever happened to you before?
  • Do you have any dental problems or mouth sores that could impede your ability to eat normally?
  • Is there a history of any particular illness that runs in your family?
  • Do you have any other concerning symptoms (palpitations, excessive thirst, sensitivity to heat or cold, a persistent cough, shortness of breath)?

Consider your overall health as you prepare for your appointment, so you can make sure your doctor is informed of any symptom that might be relevant to your condition.

Why Diagnosis Is Important

There are many medical conditions that might lead to unintentional weight loss. The American Cancer Society points out that 50% of all cancer patients have a form of cancer cachexia, a wasting syndrome that involves unintentional weight loss and brings on the death of about 20% of cancer patients.

It is the same with cardiac events. One study explicitly states, “Unintentional weight loss was an independent predictor of poor outcomes.” Unintentional weight loss brings about higher morbidity, mortality, and bodes ill for anyone already battling a disease. That is why identifying and treating unexplained weight loss is so important, especially in older adults (above age 65), who are all the more at risk of serious consequences from any sudden change in health.

Possible Causes of Unexplained Weight Loss

We’ll now run down some of the common causes of unintentional or abnormal weight loss.

Unexplained weight loss: possible underlying causes.

Endocrine Conditions

Endocrine conditions include hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), diabetes, and Addison’s disease (wherein the adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones). The thyroid gland is located in your neck, is somewhat butterfly-shaped, and controls your metabolism. An issue with the thyroid gland could be accompanied by heart palpitations, and if type 2 diabetes is at play, you’re likely to experience increased thirst and excessive urination as your body tries to expel all the glucose it can’t absorb.

Infections

Infections include anything from parasites, bacterial infections, and viruses (which HIV/AIDS patients are more susceptible to), along with conditions like endocarditis (an infection of the heart valves), or tuberculosis (an infection of the lungs). In these instances, your body is losing weight because it is using all of its resources to fight off an invasion.

Cancer

Weight loss can sometimes be one of the earliest symptoms of cancer, such as from lung cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, or blood-related cancers like lymphomas and leukemias. About 40% of cancer patients report having experienced weight loss around the time of their diagnosis, and studies have shown that unintentional weight loss is the second highest predictor for certain cancers. Weight loss often occurs as a result of cancer due to the body’s nourishing efforts being hijacked to support an abnormal tumor growth. Doctors will often check first for tumors in the bowels, colon, and esophagus, which can impede swallowing and quickly contribute to unintentional weight loss.

Intestinal Conditions

Conditions like celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and pancreatitis can lead to unexplained weight loss in those who have yet to be diagnosed.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder wherein the small intestine is damaged by gluten intake, leading to GI symptoms like diarrhea and bloating. According to the Mayo Clinic, when the immune system sees gluten as a threat, it reacts, and that reaction means your body doesn’t have a chance to absorb its nutrients properly. Likewise, in an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s, the body’s reaction leads to malabsorption and unexplained loss of weight.

Those with chronic pancreatitis lose weight due to the fact that their body cannot produce enough digestive enzymes to properly break down food (and this may come with nausea, particularly from eating fatty foods).

Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure may cause weight loss due to a lack of sufficient blood flow to the GI tract. In a 2014 study researchers observed that those who had the most dramatic unintentional weight loss were indeed those who had the lowest blood flow to their intestines. Inadequate blood flow makes it harder to absorb nutrients, and the nausea and fatigue associated with congestive heart failure could lead to a loss of appetite.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa can cause dangerous weight loss, and while it might not be a completely unknown cause to the person suffering from the condition, it can be an indicator to a loved one or parent that something is wrong. Moreover, because of the nature of body dysmorphia, those coping with these eating disorders may not fully realize just how significant their weight loss is until it starts causing other health symptoms due to malnutrition.

Psychological Conditions

Depression and anxiety disorders often come with loss of appetite as a side effect, and can be an underlying cause of unexplained weight loss. It often goes unnoticed until the weight loss is significant enough, and will involve a different sort of diagnosis, as these are not conditions that can be found via imaging scan or blood test.

Drug Abuse

Be they extralegally obtained drugs or prescription medications, drug dependence can alter your body’s metabolic and digestive processes, and change your eating habits. Side effects from medications could lead to nausea, loss of appetite, or laxative effects that can contribute to unintentional weight loss as well.

Neurological Conditions

Unintentional weight loss is frequently seen in those with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. This is possibly due to the increased energy expense of rigidity, tremors, or dyskinesia (involuntary movements) associated with Parkinson’s, or the reduced energy intake due to poor health, stress, or the side effects of medication.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

When the immune system causes inflammatory reactions in healthy tissues, as in those with rheumatoid arthritis, it can also lead to a loss of appetite or an inflammation of the gut that interrupts nutrient absorption.

Reproductive Issues

Unexplained weight loss during menopause is unnatural, as it’s more common that menopause cause weight gain in women experiencing the change. Unintentional weight loss surrounding menopause could indicate that the changes in hormones has caused or made you susceptible to some other condition (stress, diabetes).

Likewise, unexplained weight loss during pregnancy is the opposite of the normal course of order. In the first few months, a loss of appetite due to morning sickness could be the culprit behind unintentional weight loss, but excessive weight loss could be a sign of a thyroid dysfunction or hyperemesis, a pregnancy complication that entails vomiting, severe nausea, dehydration, and weight loss. Your obstetrician should be made aware of any such symptoms.

An Explanation Is Necessary

Unknown causes of weight loss include a lot of scary and potentially life-threatening concerns. It’s normal for your weight to fluctuate by a few pounds here or there throughout the course of the year, but if you cannot determine a cause for sudden, steady weight loss, it’s important to consult with a medical professional and investigate: in fact, it could save your life.

Lower Respiratory Tract Infection and Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

Lower respiratory tract infection is often used as a synonym for pneumonia. However, this condition can refer to a host of illnesses affecting the airways below the larynx. Read on for the types, causes, and treatments of LRTIs.

Lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) is often used as a synonym for pneumonia. However, this condition can refer to a host of illnesses that affect the airways below the larynx. While many people recover quickly from LRTIs, these diseases can be very serious. In fact, the European Lung Foundation notes that acute lower respiratory tract infections are the leading cause of sickness and death in people around the globe. For this reason, individuals with acute and chronic lower respiratory diseases should not hesitate to seek medical attention.

Types of Lower Respiratory Tract Infection

Because there are several types of lower respiratory tract infections, it can be difficult to determine which one you have. Below are some of the more common lower respiratory tract diseases, along with symptoms to look out for.

Acute Bronchitis

Usually short lasting, this condition affects both adults and children. The most common symptom is a cough that doesn’t go away. With bronchitis, the cough can be dry or wet. You may also suffer from fatigue, post-nasal drip, headache, and shortness of breath. Because of a chronic cough, many bronchitis sufferers also have trouble sleeping.

Bronchiolitis

Affecting the lower airways, this illness is most common in babies under 2 years of age. Coughing and wheezing are the most likely symptoms. Bronchiolitis tends to occur in the winter but can develop at any time of year. If your child experiences audible wheezing, vomiting, or lethargy, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.

Pneumonia

A lung infection, pneumonia results from various organisms, including bacteria and fungi. The condition may result in cold-like symptoms lasting for up to 4 weeks. Coughing, fever, whole body fatigue, and trouble breathing are common. In some cases, pneumonia patients develop a buildup of fluid around the lungs, a condition known as pleural effusion. Children under the age of 2 and those with underlying health conditions should be seen by a health care provider if they develop pneumonia to prevent potentially serious side effects.

Note that upper respiratory infections that start out affecting the upper respiratory tract, like the common cold or flu with milder symptoms such as runny nose and sore throat, can develop into more serious illnesses, such as infection of the lungs. For this reason, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek medical attention if you’re feeling ill.

Lower respiratory tract infection is often used as a synonym for pneumonia.

Causes of Lower Respiratory Tract Infection

Acute and chronic lower respiratory diseases are caused by both viral infections and bacterial infections. These conditions spread by direct contact with infected persons or through the air after an infected person has coughed or sneezed.

In most cases, healthy individuals who have become infected with a virus will form antibodies to fight it off. They are then immune from acquiring that form of the virus again. However, if your lower respiratory tract infection is caused by bacteria, you may need medical intervention to get well.

Certain risk factors increase the likelihood you will develop a lower respiratory infection. Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are more prone to dangerous infections.

Most cases of pneumonia in adults stem from contact with the Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, but some viruses can also cause pneumonia, most commonly the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children, and sometimes influenza.

Individuals who are hospitalized may contract a different type of pneumonia resulting from hospital germs. Those in long-term care facilities are at high risk for healthcare-acquired pneumonia. Hospital-pneumonia and healthcare-acquired pneumonia patients often need supportive care and medication in order to make a full recovery.

Finally, community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) can be contracted in a community setting outside of hospitals, nursing homes, or other healthcare institutions. CAP is the primary cause of death from infectious diseases in developed countries.

Antibiotic Treatment for Lower Respiratory Infection

Lower respiratory tract infection recovery times vary based on the infection type. In many cases, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and expedite recovery. It’s important not to overuse antibiotics, as doing so can lead to antibiotic resistance. When this happens, bacteria mutate and become resistant to the effects of certain drugs.

Some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for lower respiratory infections include: Amoxicillin, Augmentin, and Doxycycline. If your doctor recommends antibiotics, make sure to take the entire course as prescribed to avoid creating superbugs.

It’s important to note that not all cases of lower respiratory infection require antibiotics. Acute bronchitis usually resolves on its own, provided that patients drink plenty of fluids and get enough rest. If you’ve been sick for more than a week with a lower respiratory infection and don’t seem to be improving, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.

What Are Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases?

Many lower respiratory diseases are acute, and patients tend to recover within a short period of time. However, some patients suffer from chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), COPD was the third most common cause of death in the United States in 2011.

A term for a group of diseases, the lung disease COPD refers to conditions that compromise airflow and breathing. These diseases include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and even asthma, and can lead to acute respiratory failure. While some conditions like asthma are genetic, others result from environmental factors. You can reduce your odds of developing COPD by:

You can minimize the severity of COPD by visiting your doctor regularly to ensure these conditions are detected early when treatment is most effective.

Essential Amino Acids and Recovery

You may get relief from a lower respiratory disease with antibiotics, but even so the ailment can take a lot out of you. Even with successful antibiotic therapy, your immune system must be functioning at peak performance, yet the stress of the disease often limits the immune system’s efficiency. In addition, the stress of the disease, coupled with poor appetite and a low level of activity, will result in loss of muscle mass and strength, which may lead to a long-term loss in physical function.

Optimal nutritional intake is the best way to support your immune function and to minimize the loss of muscle mass. In fact, the primary goal of recovery is to replace lost muscle mass and function.

When you are sick and battling a lower respiratory infection, it is particularly important to maintain your intake of essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are the key components of the diet that support the synthesis of new proteins, and they cannot be produced in the body.

To make sure you’re getting the amino acids your body needs to recover, eat a variety of high-quality protein food sources, including fish, eggs, meat, and dairy products. Taking a dietary supplement of essential amino acids will also help ensure an optimal level of intake of these vital nutrients, particularly if you find it difficult to eat the amount of protein food sources required for healthy immune function.

As your appetite returns, these dietary supplements of free essential amino acids will help support muscle growth and improve function in a way that you cannot achieve with normal dietary protein food sources alone.

Life-Threatening Sepsis: Here’s What You Need to Know

Sepsis occurs when your body goes into overdrive trying to fight an infection and instead turns on itself, creating a toxic situation that can lead to tissue damage and organ failure. Sepsis can become life-threatening very quickly. Here’s what you need to know about sepsis, what symptoms to look out for, and how it is diagnosed and treated.

Sepsis occurs when your body goes into overdrive trying to fight an infection and instead turns on itself, creating a toxic situation that can lead to tissue damage and organ failure. Sepsis can become life-threatening very quickly and medical attention is needed immediately. Here’s what you need to know about sepsis, what symptoms to look out for, and how it is diagnosed and treated.

What Is Sepsis?

Your immune system is armed to protect you against invading viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. However, there are times when the chemicals released by your immune system that normally fight off these invaders cause inflammation that spreads throughout the body. This overwhelming reaction of your body to this unwieldy inflammatory response is called sepsis.

Sepsis is a life-threatening illness because a domino effect can occur, where blood flow decreases due to blood clots and leaky blood vessels, blood pressure drops, and organs can be weakened, damaged, and potentially fail. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of sepsis cases in the United States increases every year. In fact, the NIH reports that in the U.S., sepsis causes more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS combined.

What Causes Sepsis?

A variety of infections can be responsible for leading to sepsis, but most common infections of the kidneys, blood, and stomach are to blame. The source of infection can also come from your skin, urinary tract, or lungs. E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus are the most common causes of a bacterial infection that leads to sepsis. If an infection spreads to your bloodstream, it can progress to severe sepsis and you will most likely need medical care in an intensive care unit. There are incidents where bacteria is introduced to your body via a catheter or IV tube while being treated for another illness, and without proper immune function the infection spreads.

Who Gets Sepsis?

Sepsis can affect anyone, but babies younger than a year old, people 65 years and older, and individuals with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses are at a higher risk. If you have a chronic condition like kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, or lung disease, your chances of developing sepsis are higher too. Severe sepsis affects more than a million Americans annually, and 15% to 30% of those cases are fatal.

Sepsis Symptoms

Sepsis has three stages, beginning with sepsis, progressing to severe sepsis, and potentially leading to septic shock, a life-threatening situation. Symptoms of sepsis can include a combination of signs or only one. You may experience:

  • High fever
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweaty or clammy skin
  • Shivering
  • Increased heart rate
  • Disorientation or confusion

Your condition can turn into severe sepsis when your vital organs and tissues become damaged from the increased inflammation and deteriorating functions of the body. Your skin may become discolored or you may have an irregular heartbeat and difficulty breathing, become extremely weak, experience decreased urination, and even lose consciousness. Severe sepsis can have lasting effects on the body, leaving you more susceptible to other infections in the future.

If your condition proceeds into septic shock, you may experience a drastic drop in blood pressure. Other symptoms of septic shock include a rapid heart rate and affected mental status. This is a serious medical emergency since around 50% of people who have septic shock do not survive.

How Is Sepsis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will discuss your symptoms, any ongoing conditions, and your medical history. A blood test may be ordered to look at your white blood cell count and to see if bacteria or another type of infection is present. Blood results can also reveal oxygen and electrolyte levels and the condition of your kidneys and liver. A chest X-ray or CT scan can also help diagnose your condition and identify if you have an infection, where the infection lies, and how your organs are functioning.

Doctors assess the severity of the sepsis infection using the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). SIRS is defined by a diagnosis of two or more of the following:

  • Fever higher than 100.4 °F (38 °C) or less than 96.8 °F (36 °C)
  • Heart rate that exceeds 90 beats per minute
  • Respiratory rate of more than 20 breaths per minute or arterial carbon dioxide tension (PaCO2) of less than 32 mm Hg
  • Abnormal white blood cell count

The severity of sepsis is also determined by the quick sequential organ failure assessment (qSOFA), which doesn’t require any lab tests and measures three criteria:

  • Low blood pressure
  • High respiratory rate (greater than 22 breaths per minute)
  • Glasgow coma scale score of less than 15 (used to assess your level of consciousness)

Meeting two or more of the above criteria means you have a positive qSOFA.

Treatment of Sepsis

The biggest goal of treating sepsis is to eliminate the infection, maintain steady blood pressure, and protect against tissue damage and organ dysfunction. Immediate medical attention is essential to prevent sepsis from progressing into septic shock or death.

If your doctor suspects sepsis, you will head to the ICU for medication and monitoring. You may be given an IV of antibiotics to begin clearing the infection, intravenous fluids, insulin to normalize blood sugar, medication to minimize inflammation and lessen pain, and medication to increase blood pressure if necessary.

If you are in a life-threatening situation and your condition is poor, you may need dialysis or breathing assistance to lessen the stress on your organs. If the infection is serious, it may need to be surgically removed to prevent further spreading. Unfortunately, there is no one medicine that can reverse sepsis or the attack of your immune system. Doctors typically employ a combination approach of various drugs and methods.

Recovery time will vary from person to person, according to the stage of sepsis and additional ailments or health concerns. If medical attention is received promptly and no organs or tissues are permanently damaged, a full recovery is likely. If you or someone you know has been fighting an infection and begin to show any signs of sepsis, get to a doctor as soon as possible. Always wash hands well and keep any wounds clean and bandaged until completely healed to prevent infection.

Sepsis occurs when your body goes into overdrive trying to fight an infection and instead turns on itself, creating a toxic situation that can lead to tissue damage and organ failure