El Alcohol y el Hígado

El Alcohol y el Hígado

Hoy veremos algunos de los daños que el alcohol produce en el hígado, ya hemos hablado del síndrome de abstinencia y el Delirium Tremens, pero el alcohol afecta todo el organismo, no solo si se consume de manera crónica,, también si se hace de manera aguda pero en forma excesiva.

Estas alteraciones que se presentan en el hígado, aparecen por efecto directo del alcohol en las células hepáticas llamadas Hepatocitos.  En primer lugar aparece el llamado “hígado graso”, el cual consiste en que los hepatocitos se llenan de grasa.  Si la ingesta es mucha o frecuente, este tipo de lesión se puede manifestar con síntomas de perdida de apetito, nauseas, molestias abdominales y piel amarilla ( ictericia), puede progresar y aparecer la Hepatitis Alcohólica.

Esta enfermad consiste en una inflamación  del hígado y  se manifiesta por múltiples síntomas, entre ellos los mas  característicos, es la perdida de apetito, perdida del la fuerza y el decaimiento, además, va acompañada de fiebre, ictericia, vomito, perdida de peso, dolor abdominal, hinchazón del abdomen, la acumulación de los líquidos (ascitis) y la aparición de lunares rojos llamados nuevos aráneos.

La gravedad de este tipo de hepatitis puede ir desde la forma leve o asintomática, hasta la formas más grave que pueda producir la muerte de manera fulminante.  Se considera que entre un 4 al 3% de los alcohólicos que desarrollan un cuadro de hepatitis alcohólica pueden morir de esta causa, si el paciente continua la ingesta de alcohol tiene mas del 80% de las probabilidades de desarrollar la llamada Cirrosis Alcohólica.

Esta ultima la sufren entre un 10 y un 20% de todos los alcohólicos y su cuadro sintomatológico se compone así: Dolores abdominales, perdida de peso, ascitis, ictericia, fatigas mentales, alteraciones digestivas, eritema palmar (palmas y manos rojas), ginecomastia en los varones (crecimientos de las glándulas mamarias),  igualmente distribución femenina del vello púbico  en los hombres, con perdida del deseo sexual o incluso atracción sexual por personas del mismo genero.

Sobre esta cirrosis se puede desarrollar un cáncer  hepático, el cual lleva rápidamente a la muerte.  Cuando una persona tiene antecedentes familiares de alcoholismo y de cirrosis tiene muchísimo mayor riesgo de sufrir de cirrosis aun con un poco de ingesta de alcohol, siempre y cuando ésta sea muy frecuente.

Recuerdo mucho y con profundo dolor, a un médico que inició  su consumo de alcohol desde muy temprana edad y a pesar de conocer todos estos riesgos, continúo  su consumo  luego de presentar un cuadro de hepatitis, y como consecuencia de este consumo desarrolló un cuadro de cirrosis con una marcada alteración hepática, motivo por el cual se le practico un trasplante de hígado.  Como parte de la preparación para el trasplante le practicamos varias consultas psiquiatritas en las cuales buscábamos convencerlos de no seguir la ingesta del alcohol luego de la cirugías, pero nunca acepto que tenia que abandonar el consumo. Al recibir el hígado implantado, murió pensando que con hígado nuevo podía beber mucho más.

De esta triste historia se aprende que la dependencia del licor que desarrollan los alcohólicos es tan fuerte, que el conocimiento de los daños que el alcohol produce, e incluso la proximidad de la muerte, no logran vencerla, de ahí que necesiten un tratamiento de desintoxicación y de deshabituación que les permita superar el deseo inconsciente e involuntario de beber.

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