Australia has a strong sporting culture. We truly love sport. And one of our favourites is football! We love to watch it and we also like to play it.
According to a recent (2015-2016) survey conducted by the Australian Government’s Sports Commission, 5.8% of Australian adults participate in football – that’s 1,141,027 people.
That same survey suggests that our top motivation for playing sport is to increase our physical health and fitness. Ironically, so many of our sporting activities – win, loss, training – are followed with a few too many drinks at the pub or a mates’ house.
Drinking won’t matter if I’m exercising, right?
Wrong! It’s easy to assume that regularly playing sport and putting in the hard work to achieve your peak health and fitness would cancel out the Friday night binge drinking session. What this doesn’t take into account are the long-term repercussions of indulging in risky drinking patterns. A harmful or risky drinking pattern can be defined as excessive drinking or binging in one sitting. For men, it’s any more than six drinks and for women, it’s any more than four standard drinks.
How will it affect my training and health levels?
Each gram of alcohol contains approximately seven calories, adding up to 70 calories for a standard drink containing 10 grams of alcohol. Extra calories equal extra body weight.
Alcohol also affects our body’s ability to absorb nutrients and apart from making you more prone to illness and longer recovery times, your body needs to be able to absorb the right nutrients to perform at its best.
Excessive alcohol does no favours to our liver either. Excessive alcohol can cause fat to build up in the liver leading to a condition called fatty liver disease or steatosis. This is the most common liver disorder resulting from excessive heavy drinking.
Too much fat in the liver can cause the liver cells to become enlarged and inflamed. An inflamed liver from alcohol is known as alcoholic hepatitis – a potentially fatal disease.
If you continue to drink alcohol the inflammation can eventually lead to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis occurs when scar tissue starts to replace the healthy liver tissue. Because there is no cure for cirrhosis, treatment aims to slow progress.
Fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis can be cured if you stop drinking. However, even after you stop drinking, cirrhosis can still develop.
How do I know if my liver has been affected?
There are early symptoms of alcohol-based liver pain that you can be on the lookout for such as: loss of appetite, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, feeling ill, tiredness or even fatigue.
However, if you know you’ve been drinking excessively for a while, advanced symptoms of alcohol- based liver damage are more serious and noticeable. For example, pain in the upper right side and an increased sensitivity to alcohol and drugs, because your liver is not functioning properly and can’t process these substances. Other advanced symptoms include weight loss, nausea and vomiting, dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye).
What do I do if I am experiencing any of these symptoms?
The first thing you need to do is see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may recommend you to see a liver specialist to have a liver scan to determine whether your liver is damaged, and to what extent. A LiverScan measures the amount of scar tissue and fatty change (Steatosis) to the liver. The procedure is non- invasive and completely pain-free.
The results are immediate and will allow your doctor to determine if your liver is damaged and what treatment is required.
Take a liver alcohol test
LiverScan Australia is the only private practice in Victoria to have a FibroScan® 502 Touch device that can perform a liver alcohol test. To find out more or book an appointment, please contact us on 03 9372 0372.