Butrerworth, Roger F.
June 2003
Alcohol Research & Health;2003, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p143
Academic Journal
Alcohol's harmful effects on liver cells interfere not only with the normal functioning of the liver but also impact distant organs, including the brain. Prolonged liver dysfunction resulting from excessive alcohol consumption can lead to the development of a serious and potentially fatal brain disorder known as hepatic encephalopathy (HE). Analyses of brain tissue of HE patients found characteristic changes in the structure of supporting cells known as astrocytes rather than obvious destruction of nerve cells. Diagnosing HE in alcoholic patients is difficult because no single clinical or laboratory test can conclusively establish the diagnosis. Patients frequently are misdiagnosed, particularly in the early stages of HE, when symptoms such as euphoria anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders occur that are common to a number of psychiatric conditions.


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