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"Are alcoholics more susceptible to hepatitis?"

ZocdocAnswersAre alcoholics more susceptible to hepatitis?

Question

I was an alcoholic for around 10 years but have been sober for two. I'm worried now that I might get disease from my alcoholism like hepatitis. Are alcoholics and former alcoholics more susceptible to hepatitis?

Answer

You ask a very important question. As you know, alcohol can be severely damaging to the liver. If you are concerned about liver damage, have questions about this or about alcohol abuse, or simply want more information -- I would recommend that you see your primary care doctor. If necessary, he or she may refer you to a liver specialist -- also known as a hepatologist. Hepatitis is a term that refers to inflammation of the liver. This can occur because of many causes, alcohol being one. People who drink alcohol can develop alcoholic hepatitis -- although if you are not drinking this is less likely. Another common cause of hepatitis (and what people generally think of when hepatitis is said) is infection -- mostly this is caused by viruses like hepatitis A, B or C. Alcoholics or former drinkers are not more susceptible to infectious hepatitis. That being said, your liver can eventually be so damaged that it fails. Alcohol can damage your liver, but enough can survive for you to be ok. Likewise, infectious hepatitis can damage your liver, but enough can survive. However if you get BOTH -- then you could lose the liver. So thinking seriously about preventing hepatitis in people who have drunk alcohol (namely giving the appropriate vaccines) is important. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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