How Many Years of Drinking Alcohol Before Liver Damage?

The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself, which can make it easy to take advantage of its salamander-like skills. Long after you've finished indulging in a few cocktails, your liver is working hard to filter out any harmful toxins. But what happens when years of indulging turns into more than just a morning-after hangover?

Overview of how alcohol and the liver

  • According to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics liver complications can develop after 5 to 10 years, though each individual is different.
  • The largest risk factor for liver disease from alcohol is the amount and length of time the person has been drinking.
  • Any amount of alcohol can cause damage to the liver.
  • UP to 50% of people with underlying liver disease do not show symptoms.
  • One episode of serious alcohol bingeing can cause acute alcoholic hepatitis which can become very serious and lead to death.

What causes liver damage?

There are many factors that can contribute to a damaged liver: an unhealthy diet, illegal drug use, genetic liver diseases, and excessive alcohol consumption. Where it concerns alcohol, too much of it can lead to serious health concerns and result in alcoholic liver disease.

The risk and severity of liver damage is determined by how much alcohol is consumed, how often it is consumed, and for how long the person has been drinking alcohol.

When alcohol is consumed, most of it is metabolized in the liver. When it is metabolized, there are harmful toxins that are produced that can damage the liver. The more alcohol, the more toxins created. While the liver can regenerate, it also has its limits and liver damage can become so severe that it is irreversible and may, eventually, lead to death.

What kind of liver damage can alcohol cause?

There are different types of liver damage that can come from alcohol abuse.

  • Alcoholic Hepatitis (liver inflammation) – This type of damage is very serious and is most likely to occur in heavy drinkers over a long period of time. In fact, 30 – 40 percent of people with severe alcoholic hepatitis can die within one month.
  • Steatosis (fatty liver) – This kind of liver damage is the least serious and can be reversed if treated correctly.
  • Cirrhosis – This damage cannot be reversed and occurs when large amounts of liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue which affects the functioning of the liver.

How do I know if I have liver damage from alcohol?

Liver damage can be a slow process and there are typically no symptoms until the damage is already done. The symptoms also vary depending on how damaged your liver is. Some signs of liver damage include nausea, loss of appetite, jaundice, fatigue, red palms, and abdominal discomfort.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you mention them to your doctor for a proper diagnosis. There are various ways your doctor may determine if your liver is damaged including liver functioning tests, biopsies, CT scans, and ultrasounds.

If you are interested in learning about your liver health, there is also a new, non-invasive diagnostic test that can help you determine the extent of liver damage and get you one step closer towards living a happy, healthy lifestyle.

At Fibronostics our passion for non-invasive digital diagnostics drives us towards creating solutions that allow you to monitor risk and detect disease, with the goal of eventually forgoing the traditional biopsies and scans currently common practice.

That’s why we developed the LiverFASt™ family of tests for monitoring risk and detecting disease in your liver – the largest organ in your body connected to many common health risks. Allow us to help you understand the health of your liver so that you can stay ahead of the silent killer of Liver Disease and live a happy, healthy life!

Contact us via email, or by phone at 1-888-552-1603 today to learn more about our LiverFASt™ family of diagnostic tests.




  1. Liver disease: frequently asked questions
  2. Alcoholic liver disease
  3. Alcohol-related liver disease
  4. Alcoholic hepatitis

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