Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Alcoholic Hepatitis Treatment

In order to avoid further damage to the liver, treatment for alcoholic hepatitis requires complete abstinence from alcohol. Mild alcoholic hepatitis may not require additional treatment. A person with moderate to severe alcoholic hepatitis must avoid medications that place additional stress on the liver and follow a liver disease diet. Severe alcoholic hepatitis requires admission to a hospital for treatment. Unless complications develop, the symptoms of acute alcoholic hepatitis usually resolve within a week.

Treatment for alcoholic hepatitis includes:


The essentials of the liver disease diet:
  • High carbohydrate diet:
    • Carbohydrates, rather than protein, are the major source of calories in this diet.
  • Moderate fat intake:
    • The increased carbohydrate and fat intake help preserve protein in the body and prevent muscle breakdown.
  • Low protein diet:
    • Protein is restricted to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
    • Severe liver disease may require carefully measured amounts of protein supplements.
  • Vitamin B supplements
  • Low salt diet

Alcoholic Hepatitis Diet

A person with alcoholic hepatitis may benefit from the following diet.

The liver is essential for the digestion of all foods. In the presence of liver disease, the ability to effectively metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins can be compromised. A liver disease diet is one in which foods are selected in quantities which provide adequate nutrition, but protect the liver from overworking.

Carbohydrates should be the major source of energy (calories) for individuals with liver disease. Proteins assist in tissue repair and prevent fatty infiltration of liver cells. Those with severely compromised liver function must limit their intake of protein. In this case protein is not properly broken down and waste products can build up in the bloodstream.

Those with liver disease will often suffer from sodium imbalances. Manifestations of sodium imbalance include ascites (abdominal fluid build-up) and edema (swelling) of the extremities. In this case dietary sodium restriction is essential.

The essentials of the liver disease diet:

  • High carbohydrate diet:
    • This is the major source of calories in this diet.
  • Moderate fat intake:
    • The increased carbohydrate and fat help in preserving the protein in the body and prevent muscle wasting.
  • Low protein diet:
    • Restrict protein to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
    • Severe liver disease may require measured amounts of protein supplements.
  • Vitamin B supplements
  • Low salt diet

Alcoholic Hepatitis Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of alcoholic hepatitis.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for liver disease?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Alcoholic Hepatitis Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat alcoholic hepatitis:

Continue to Alcoholic Hepatitis Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Alcoholic Hepatitis References
  1. Haber PS, Warner R, Seth D, Gorrell MD, McCaughan GW. Pathogenesis and management of alcoholic hepatitis. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003 Dec;18(12):1332-44. [14675260]
  2. Madhotra R, Gilmore IT. Recent developments in the treatment of alcoholic hepatitis. QJM. 2003 Jun;96(6):391-400. [12788957]
  3. O'Shea RS, McCullough AJ. Treatment of alcoholic hepatitis. Clin Liver Dis. 2005 Feb;9(1):103-34. [15763232]
  4. Willner IR, Reuben A. Alcohol and the liver. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2005 May;21(3):323-30. [15818153]
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