Early Symptoms of Liver Damage From Alcohol

Heavy consumption of alcohol over a period of many years may result in liver damage; however, the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse states that the amount of alcohol needed to causes damage varies from individual. Symptoms often do not emerge until the damage to the liver becomes advanced, according to MedlinePlus. These symptoms may differ from each individual and will tend to worsen following incidents of heavy alcohol consumption.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Reduced liver functioning due to damage results in high amounts of bile pigment or bilirubin in the blood. As a result the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow. Additionally, the University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that urine may become dark due to bilirubin passing through the kidneys. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that jaundice is often the first symptom of liver damage and may remain the only sign present.


In the early stages of liver damage the liver may become inflamed; a reaction to infection and an effort to repair damage. As a result the liver will become enlarged and result in potential abdominal pain and tenderness, according to MedlinePlus. The swelling of the liver is known as alcoholic hepatitis. The American Liver Foundation identifies symptoms associated with this condition, including loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and fever.


In the early stages of liver disease caused by alcoholism, the American Liver Foundation indicates that fat may accumulate in the liver, a condition called fatty liver disease. Symptoms generally do not accompany this condition, according to the American Liver Foundation. If symptoms do develop they may include fatigue, weakness and weight loss.


Liver damage may result in fluid leaking from the liver and intestines. This fluid will accumulate in the abdominal cavity, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, resulting in a symptom called ascites. As a result of fluid buildup, the abdominal cavity may become distended, causing discomfort and shortness of breath. MedlinePlus indicates that the individual may gain weight due to the buildup of fluid in the abdomen.

General Symptoms

Other symptoms may emerge in the early stages of liver damage. MedlinePlus identifies that an individual may experience dry mouth, excessive thirst, fever and nausea. Other symptoms identified by MedlinePlus include, agitation, bloody bowel movements, breast development in males, changes in mood, attention problems, concentration problems, impaired judgment, light-headedness, paleness, redness on the feet or hands, sluggishness and vomiting blood. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns that symptoms associated with alcohol-induced liver disease may also be caused by other conditions and diseases, therefore, an individual should seek medical care to determine the cause of the problems.