Research recently shows a pandemic impact from alcoholic drinks, causing one to develop gastrointestinal and liver disease.
A MedPage Today report said inpatient consults for alcohol-related gastrointestinal and liver disease rose following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and stayed elevated, according to the study.
The fraction of inpatients who were necessitating endoscopic interventions for their alcohol-related GI and liver diseases increase, as well, which suggested a worsening trend in severity, as indicated in the data presented at a pre-meeting press conference for the conference dubbed "Digestive Disease Week" or DDW.
On top of the impacts on physical health because of delated or limited access to healthcare, mandated by infection-control restrictions, a lot of people suffered adverse psychological impacts like isolation, depression, anxiety, economic security, and job loss.
This was according to the Providence, Waihong Chung, MD, Ph.D., from the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The medical expert added, these are risk factors for the development of other health conditions like addiction, for one.
Substantial Increase in Alcoholic-Related Problems
After they noticed a considerable rise in inpatient consults for alcohol-related problems in 2020, Chung's team performed a system-wide audit of all inpatient gastrointestinal consults at the hospital conducted during the lockdown and reopening phases in Rhode Island's largest healthcare system.
The researchers then compared their findings against data from the same period in 2019 to identify changes in the disease burden of GI and liver conditions that were linked to alcoholic drinks.
As indicated in their finding, during the pandemic lockdown phase between July March 23, and May 23, 2020, 558 consults had been recorded.
During the June 1 to July 19 reopening phase, the number of consults increased to 713. In connection to this, diagnoses were determined from discharge summaries of the patients and confirmed by an independent evaluation of notes GI consult notes.
While the number of all GI consults dropped by 27 percent during lockdown after restrictions on hospital capacity, the percentage for alcohol-associated GI and liver diseases rose abruptly by 59.6 percent.
Increase in Alcoholic Hepatitis
Notably, over the study period, there was an increase in alcoholic hepatitis by 53 percent. This serious condition had high short-term mortality, a similar EurekAlert! specified, predominated among inpatient consults, accounting for about 75 to 80 percent of them.
Other conditions linked to alcoholic drinking ranged from cirrhosis and pancreatitis to gastritis and esophagitis.
In a related report, WTOP said, clinical restrictions were found to be worse both when it comes to endoscopic intervention rates and results by blood count, as well as liver function tests.
Remarkably, as the COVID-19 crisis wore on, the inpatient group became younger in age. During the lockdown, the study showed that the median age was 56, and 70 percent of them were male.
During the reopening phase, the percentage of males was the same although patients were younger with a 51-against-56 median age, explained Chung.
To compare, there was no substantial change compared with 2019 in the consults' percentages for non-alcoholic-associated liver diseases, biliary obstruction or injury, IBD or inflammatory bowel disease, or gastrointestinal bleeding.
Proactive Screening of, and Addressing Alcohol Use Disorder
Chung also said, the bottom line here is that there is a need for healthcare providers to proactively screen for, and address aggressively, alcohol use disorder.
He elaborated, primary care and GI doctors and hepatologists should double down and ask their patients about their use of alcohol. They should identify people as well, who need help sooner, "rather than later."
Furthermore, Chung recommended that doctors use a neutral mode of questioning in the background of routine care, asking patients if they consume alcoholic drinks, the amount they usually consume, and how much they have consumed in the past week.
Verified screening tools for alcohol use and abuse, like the CAGE questionnaire, as shown on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, only take a minute to conduct, and provide reasonable specificity and sensitivity for alcohol use disorders, Chung explained.
Fox 11 Los Angeles has a related report on its YouTube video, shown below:
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