I'm a doctor – here's how long your liver ACTUALLY takes to recover from boozing

MOST of us enjoy having a drink or two with friends or family, but it can be easy to over indulge and get carried away.

One doctor has now revealed how long it actually takes for your liver to bounce back from a night out.

She warned that if you drink too much in a short space of time, you’re at increased risk of illness and injury.

Dr Elizabeth Rogers, Associate Clinical Director from Bupa Health Clinics said: "If you cut alcohol out of your diet for four weeks, your liver function can improve and could start some regeneration.

"If your liver function is not too badly affected by alcohol, it can recover fully within 4-8 weeks."

Consuming more than the recommended limit of 14 units per week means you’re putting yourself at an increased risk of problems with your heart, liver, and digestive system,

The NHS recommends that we have no more than 14 units of booze a week with a unit being a small glass of wine or a glass of beer.

Dr Rogers said that if you regulary drink more than this then you're at increased risk of problems with your heart, liver, and digestive system.

Despite this risk element, she said that luckily your liver actually has the capacity to regenerate and repair itself.

She highlighted that regular boozing means you are at a higher risk of developing liver disease if you drink more than five units each day for two to three weeks.

"Regularly drinking too much alcohol can damage your nerves and affect the levels of messenger chemicals (neurotransmitters) in your brain.

"This can lead to problems with memory, eyesight, balance and coordination, and how sensations including pain are felt around your body", she said.

Drinking to excess can also cause other issues and Dr Rogers said you should watch out for drinks like Champagne and Prosecco which can dissolve tooth enamel due to the high acidic level, which can increase the risk of tooth erosion.

If you regularly consume too much booze, you can also damage your nerves and affect the levels of messenger chemicals (neurotransmitters) in your brain.

"This can lead to problems with memory, eyesight, balance and coordination, and how sensations including pain are felt around your body. 

"Drinking more than usual can negatively affect your mental health, too. Alcohol alters the chemistry in your brain and can increase your risk of getting anxiety and depression", Dr Rogers said.

KNOW THE SIGNS

The risk of drinking on a regular basis is that you can easily end up drinking too much, that one glass of wine is likely to be insufficient if you're knocking it back every night.

Guidelines recommend that, over a week, it’s safest not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol. This is the same for both men and women.

It can be hard to know when you, or someone you love is drinking too much, but Dr Rogers said there are some things you can look out for.

She added: "Watch out for feeling constantly tired, regularly experiencing hangovers, sweating a lot, and having regular headaches, as these are all signs you’re drinking too much.

"Watch out for psychological changes too, such as feeling anxious, experiencing mood swings and intensely craving alcohol."

HAVE A LIMIT

Dr Rogers said there are ways you can keep on top of your boozing, but warned that you should avoid 'saving up' your alcohol units for one big blow out.

She said these must be spaced out over the week.

"Spread your drinking over a few days and where possible, aim for 3-4 alcohol-free days each week. Remember that 14 units a week is a limit, not a goal!"

Asking yourself why you're drinking is also a great way to keep tabs, she suggested.

"“Mindful drinking” is the practice of being aware of why and how much alcohol you drink. It often leads to healthier relationships with alcohol and less consumption. 

"It’s a simple trend to adopt – to practice mindful drinking, pause before each new drink and ask yourself why you’re drinking. From asking how it feels to drink this alcohol to if you feel good, all these simple techniques can improve your relationship with alcohol", she added.

SOURCES OF HELP:

  • For confidential advice, tips and online tools, see drinkaware.co.uk. You can talk to a professional adviser by online chat or over the phone or find a list of support services either online or local to you.
  • Drinkaware urges anyone worried about their drinking, or someone else’s, to call Drinkline on 0300 123 1110.

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