Most alcoholics know that excessive use of alcohol over a long period can lead to problems with the liver – the body in which the splitting of alcohol enters the body to harmful byproducts, and then removing them from the body. However, not everyone knows that the harm of alcohol to the brain may occur in very specific way. It may be expressed in long-term liver dysfunction, for example, cirrhosis caused by alcohol was a regular in large quantities, can also lead to abnormal brain activity, including a serious disorder of brain function, or hepatic encephalopathy, which itself can be deadly. That is, alcohol in addition to direct harm to the brain destroys the liver, which in turn, self-harms the brain.
Thus, the harm alcohol can manifest as hepatic encephalopathy, which may result in sleep disturbances, mood swings, changes in personality traits, anxiety and depression, cognitive disorders (i.e., cognitive) functions, for example, inability to concentrate, and well as problems with coordination of movements (as is often observed asterisks – spasmodic flapping tremor). In the most severe cases, patients may fall into a coma (hepatic coma), which is often lethal.
New brain scan technology allows scientists to analyze the activity of different brain regions in patients with liver disease caused by alcoholism and, therefore, to examine the development of hepatic encephalopathy. According to the results of relevant studies identified at least two toxic substances that provoke the development of hepatic encephalopathy – ammonia and manganese. The harm of alcohol in this case is applied as follows. Liver cells damaged by alcohol, produce excessive amounts of these harmful substances, which can then reach the brain and destroy brain cells.
Hepatic encephalopathy treatment Medical Procedures
To prevent the development of hepatic encephalopathy are commonly used following medical procedures:
Appointment of drugs that reduce ammonia levels in the blood, for example, L-ornithine, L-aspartate.
The use of various medical technologies, such as devices that support the functioning of the liver, also known as “artificial liver”, which contribute to cleaning the patient’s blood from toxic substances. Studies have shown that the use of devices of this type of ammonia concentration in the blood is greatly reduced, allowing partially reduce the effects of encephalopathy.
Liver transplantation – is widely used to treat patients with severe (final) stage of cirrhosis. According to medical statistics, a liver transplant using the latest medical technology leads to significant improvement in cognitive function in patients up to their full recovery and to reduce the concentration of manganese and ammonia in the blood to normal levels.
The appearance of signs of encephalopathy in patients with compensated liver failure with no apparent external cause (e.g., infections, inappropriate drugs) suggests the possibility of hidden gastrointestinal bleeding from esophageal varices, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer or intestinal tumors. In the absence of external signs of gastrointestinal bleeding first step in examination of the patient must be a rectal examination and fecal blood.
General principles of hepatic encephalopathy treatment are to reduce the load of the gastrointestinal tract in protein, normalization of disorders of water and electrolyte metabolism, need to avoid potentially dangerous drugs and the use of therapies that reduce the production of ammonia in the intestine and increase its excretion from the body.
In recent years has spread the use of drugs, correcting the alleged disorder neurotransmitter in the brain. These “heroic” measures such as cross-circulation and liver transplantation are rarely used. Usually they are used for acute and severe liver disease with culminant type of encephalopathy has completely healthy before the sick.
Reducing the load of the gastrointestinal tract with the help of proteins
Reducing the protein contents of the gastrointestinal tract is achieved by a temporary reduction in its amount in the food and the removal of suitable methods of blood from the stomach or colon (intestinal lavage, endoscope aspiration).
Treatment of venous bleeding, and other sources of bleeding provides options intubation bowel lavage and tamponade. In patients with mild encephalopathy should be reduced protein intake to 20-40 grams per day. With its moderate or more severe should be administered entirely protein-free diet.