Alcohol use problems range from occasional problem drinking to alcohol misuse to alcoholism. Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is often progressive and fatal. This profile measures the key blood parametres to assess alcohol misuse.
Liver function tests:
The NIAAA defines risky drinking of “standard drinks,” with one standard drink equal to about 12 ounces of typical American beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. These figures are based on “typical” (mass market) forms of beer and wine; particularly for beer, many speciality beers may contain up to twice the amount of alcohol as a mass-market beer does. For wine, the alcohol content is more constant, but wine coolers often contain less alcohol and some types of wine, such as zinfandels and port, may contain twice the average amount of alcohol. For men, 4 or more drinks a day or 14 or more a week within the last year is considered risky, while for women it is 3 or more a day or 7 or more a week.
While consuming alcohol is, by definition, necessary to develop alcoholism, the use of alcohol by itself does not predict the development of alcoholism. The quantity, frequency, and regularity of alcohol consumption required to develop alcoholism vary greatly from person to person. People’s response to alcohol may be affected by their size, age, a general state of health, and by the medications they are taking. In some, fewer drinks can still cause health problems. Since there is no known “safe” alcohol level for pregnant women, the Surgeon General advises women who are or are planning to be, pregnant to abstain from drinking.
No test preparation is needed.
As outlined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), those affected experience:
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol misuse is a pattern of drinking that results in particularly problematic situations, such as failure to fulfil major work, school, or home duties or having recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such as arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 15 million American adults misuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent. In the United States, nearly 20% of patients treated in general medical practices report drinking at levels considered “risky” or “hazardous.” According to NIAAA, less than 10% of patients with alcohol use disorder receive treatment.
Long-term health risks
According to the CDC, long-term, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of several medical and social problems. These include:
Having hepatitis C virus (HCV) and using alcohol reduces liver function and can interfere with medications taken to treat the HCV. In addition, if you have another form of liver disease (including hepatitis C), alcohol can make the disease more likely to progress to cirrhosis and cause death.
Women tend to be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and may develop alcohol-related health problems sooner and after consuming less alcohol than men do. Alcohol use in pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and other problems in the baby, such as abnormal facial features, malformation of organs (such as the brain and heart), growth deficits, and hearing and vision problems. Brain damage due to a mother’s alcohol use may result in behavioural problems, speech and language delays, and learning disabilities, according to the March of Dimes.
There are no definitive laboratory tests that can be used to identify alcoholism. However, certain tests may help detect chronic and/or relapse in alcohol drinking in those who deny it and help evaluate organ damage.
See the pages on the individual tests for more detailed information about each one.
The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.
Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.
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