So, about a month ago I decided I needed to cut down on my alcohol consumption. Before that time I had been drinking alcohol for the past 2 years and kind of heavily for the past 9 months. I am in my late 20s. I had cut back drastically and hadn't had anything to drink until last week. I drank one evening and started having a dull pain just below my right rib cage. I had yellow stool the day after and it's been a week since the last time I drank and now my stool had turned green. The discomfort really hasn't gone away and I'm getting worried. The dull ache is still there and I feel kind of bloated. I'm also wondering about my iron levels. I am male and had been taking multivitamins containing iron along with alcohol.
I know I need to go to the doctor and get blood work done, but the soonest appointment I could make is a month and a half out. I think I'm done with alcohol altogether, I don't want to put my liver at risk anymore. I will go see a doctor, but I just don't know what to do in the meantime. I called a number of places and most are booked for several months.
Is there anything I can do in the meantime while waiting to see a doctor?
Is it common to get symptoms after quitting drinking (but not during)?
Green stool could a symptom of iron and is usually a result of supplements. An easy way to check is to stop the supplements and see if the stool returns to normal color. (that is unless your doctor put you on supplements).
Green stool could also be from eating large amounts of vegetable. Very common in vegetarians.
I know it is difficult not to worry, put at this time, it could be a number of things from gall bladder to stones to even some medication or supplements. And even after your doctor's visit you will not know too much. A blood test will be ordered and a possible ultra-sound appointment will be made. Only after these items are produced will the doc be able to advise your situation.
As for you question- A person usually has symptoms of problems while drinking- thus leading to medical attention. It is uncommon for a person to start to have alcohol related liver problems after stopping drinking. However not all liver problems develop from alcohol.
At your age and with your history I'd be very surprised if you were in serious trouble at this point. Alcoholic liver disease usually presents in middle age (in males). Some skid row alcoholics and all day drunks get in trouble sooner, but not so much functional party people.
A fatty liver can cause the problems you describe, and fatty livers are completely fixable early on. Aside from alcohol, fatty livers result more from too much sugar, fructose and simple carbs (flour and starch) than actual fat in the diet. There is oceans of info for you to ponder on this if fatty liver is your problem.
Remember to ask your doctor to include an iron study in your blood labs, as they usually don't order these in men. They are cheap and easy tests, so he/she shouldn't object.
The upper limit for "ferritin" (which is the test you should ask for and look for in your results) is set remarkably high at 300 for men, but if you're liver is at all distressed anything over ferritin 100 can contribute to your problems and slow your recovery.
If your ferritin is high, the fix is an easy one if you're not afraid of needles... A couple of blood donations will fix you up in no time. Fair warning, the needles they use at the blood bank are larger than the ones used to draw blood for labs, but they really don't hurt much more than any other jab. You can watch videos of blood donation online to check it out if you're interested.
You can lower iron slowly through dietary measures too... Less red meat and more chicken and fish, and both coffee and tea inhibit iron absorption from food if you drink them with meals.
Most men NEVER need any supplemental iron once they enter adulthood, but most men also don't get really overloaded with iron until middle age. It will be interesting to see if those supplements bumped you into triple digits with the ferritin.
If they have, I would work on this, even if your doc doesn't sweat it that much. Stored iron usually climbs ever higher in men throughout most of their adult lives, and when it comes to stored iron, more is not better. Many believe iron overload in men is why women (who lose iron through menstruation) outlive us by nearly a decade.
Thanks for the replies. I quit taking all supplements a few weeks ago, before I started noticing these problems. I never realized the interaction alcohol has with iron absorption, and the roll iron plays in alcoholic liver disease. In addition to the multivitamin I had also been taking protein powder that contains iron as well. Working out and drinking heavily...kind of a dumb combination I know.
I really wish I could donate blood, I have no problems with needles, but they will not take my blood because of a medication I have taken.
Best not sweat the iron until you see how high it is... Just be sure your doc tests for it. Ferritin can be artificially elevated by inflammation or infection so "transferrin saturation" and iron binding capacity should be looked at too, but ferritin is the best indicator of stored iron levels in the liver.
In routine blood work, the CBC (complete blood count) may show hemoglobin and/or hematocrit is high or up near the tippy-top of their normal ranges, or an MCV (mean corpuscular volume) larger than average when iron is high too.
If your iron is high and you can't donate blood, your doc can refer you to a hematologist for "therapeutic phlebotomy" at the blood bank. They just flush your blood rather than use it on patients. Doctors rarely do this though unless your ferritin is really sky-high (over 300).
There are other ways to lower iron though and aside from the dietary measures I mentioned above, there is an iron chelator called "IP6" aka inositol hexaphosphate or rice bran extract. You need to be careful with this supplement because it may also chelate other minerals like zinc and magnesium, but by cycling on and off low dose IP6 and supplementing with low dose zinc and mag citrate you can chelate iron.
Again, don't mess with this stuff until you're sure your sure you're overloaded, but there are other options if your doc doesn't want to correct this medically, and it's unfortunate that many docs can't be bothered to treat high iron.
Lowering my iron really helped me feel better, and I'm a born again believer in this now! I drank for over 30 years, and thought I was gonna' die for about 6 months after I quit. My ferritin was only around 200, but once I started lowering my iron, I felt much better with remarkable swiftness. My miracle cure!
Let us know how things turn out for you... I'm curious to see if this may be contributing to your liver inflammation.
Thanks, I'll definitely get it tested. It is frustrating that would have to beg to get a doctors order for a procedure that is frequently done for free without one. I guess that's just the way it is... it seems like bloodletting is a taboo subject for some because of its history and misunderstanding centuries ago.
I would rather do that than an iron chelator. I know I shouldn't jump to conclusions, I'll be sure to update when I do get more information.