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What Happens to Your Liver When You Stop Drinking


One of the most challenging but rewarding things you can do is stop drinking alcohol. Especially if you are worried that you may become dependent on drinking as a vice. So, whether you’re attempting Dry January or decided to cut down on alcohol this year to improve your health, you’ll be doing your liver and entire body a big favour.

To help you get started, we have gathered all the most important information you need to know when you stop drinking. Putting an emphasis on what happens to your liver. We hope this information solidifies your decision to stop drinking and gives you the advice and information you need about liver health and at-home liver tests.

What Happens to Your Liver When You Stop Drinking?

Did you know that the liver is the only organ in the body to regenerate itself? Within reason, of course, but it is clear that the liver is pretty amazing! It is similar to the skin, which, when cut, will scab over and heal itself, sometimes leaving scars. Your liver goes through the same process, and scar tissue will develop as cells die.

But we cannot forget that it is vulnerable to damage, so we can’t take its regenerative superpower as the go-ahead to drink as much alcohol as we like. If the scarring of your liver becomes too severe, it can begin to stop functioning properly.

Once you stop drinking, if the damage is not too severe, your liver can repair itself usually after a few days or weeks. After heavy drinking, the healing process of your liver can take several months. 

What Does the Liver Do?

As the largest solid organ in the body, the liver is responsible for around 500 essential processes in the body. It plays a vital role in detoxifying the body, removing contaminants, storing nutrients and vitamins, and converting fat, protein, and carbohydrates. So, it is clear the liver plays no small part in the healthy function of our bodies. 

When you drink alcohol excessively, the liver becomes damaged, leading to liver disease and failure if not treated early. Suppose you are worried about alcohol and liver disease. In that case, you can learn more about the effects of alcohol on the liver.

Common Symptoms of Liver Damage

If you are concerned about the result of excessive drinking on your liver, symptoms are usually not hard to spot but can be looked over by those in denial about how much they drink. Common symptoms of liver damage include:

  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin (also called jaundice)
  • Dark urine
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Feeling itchy
  • Pain in the right upper abdomen
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Change in the colour of your stools – pale, bloody or very dark

Whilst various symptoms can present if your liver is damaged, many of these symptoms could be related to other conditions. It’s always wise to seek advice from a GP if you experience any of the above.

How Quickly Can Your Liver Repair Itself?

The good news is that your liver is incredibly resilient and can repair after four to six weeks (providing it isn’t too damaged). After light alcohol consumption, the process can sometimes begin within days. When you cut out alcohol completely for several months, your liver cells can return to normal.

Although, as previously mentioned, long-term damage to the liver may be irreversible. 

What is Too Much Alcohol?

If you do wish to continue drinking but want to minimise your alcohol consumption, you may wonder what a safe amount of alcohol to drink is. 

As a guide, having two to three alcoholic drinks daily can harm your liver. Binge drinking, which is when when you consume more than four alcoholic drinks in one sitting, will have the same effect.

According to the NHS, the current UK guidelines advise limiting alcohol intake to 14 units a week for women and men. This is equivalent to drinking at most six pints of average-strength beer (4% ABV) or seven medium-sized glasses of wine (175ml, 12% ABV) a week.

However, there isn’t a fixed number of alcohol units that apply to everyone. Each individual is different, so think about how much alcohol is safe for you. It could be even less than the NHS recommends if your liver is already damaged. 

If you’re not sure about the current health condition of your liver, did you know that you can test it at home? This will give you an excellent indication of whether drinking alcohol is a safe and healthy option for you. 

How to Test the Health of Your Liver

Unfortunately, most people won’t realise their liver is severely damaged until it is too late. Many won’t experience any symptoms from liver disease until 75% of the liver is damaged. So, it’s important to have regular check-ups and liver blood tests if you regularly drink alcohol.

Your GP can arrange liver tests, but you can also do it in the comfort of your home at your convenience. At Home Health UK, we are pleased to offer a collection of high-quality home liver function tests. But how do they work?

How Do Home Liver Tests Work?

A home health liver test will check for Bilirubin and Urobilinogen in your urine.

Bilirubin is the yellow substance found in the blood, which is why high levels can cause yellowing of the skin and eyes. Urobilinogen is also associated with the breakdown of red blood cells; raised levels can indicate liver disease.

Fortunately, home liver function tests are easy and simple to carry out. It involves urinating into a pot and dipping the test strip into the sample. Then, results will appear on the strip within 30-60 seconds; it’s that fast!

The test includes a colour chart, enabling you to compare your results and identify if you need to take action or see a doctor.

By understanding the current health of your liver, you will be able to make informed choices about your health and how much alcohol you should and shouldn’t drink in the future.

Testing Your Liver at Home 

If you’re concerned about the health of your liver, remove your uncertainty and worry with a home liver function test kit from Home Health UK. Simple to take and providing fast results, home liver tests give you an excellent indication of your current liver health and the next steps you should take. From reducing your alcohol consumption to completely cutting it out, you will have a clear indication of the best way to improve your health. 

Similarly, you may want to use a home liver test if you have already stopped drinking and want to see the effects on your liver for yourself. We recommend taking a home liver test before you cut out alcohol and then again a few weeks later to compare its impact on your health. 


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