What is a unit of alcohol?

One unit is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol, which is the amount of pure alcohol in a 25ml single measure of spirits, a third of a pint of beer or half a standard glass of red wine. Apart from spirits, it's hard to tell how many units are in different types of drink, as it depends on both the size of the drink and its strength or percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV).


I have heard drinking a couple of units a day is good for your health, is this true?

If you are middle-aged, an older man or a postmenopausal woman, drinking about a unit a day is thought to have the effect of reducing the risk of heart disease. However this is not as good for your health as excersise and a good diet.


How many units are recommended as a limit?

It is recommended for men to drink no more than three to four units per day on a regular basis which will lower the risk of any health problems. For women the recommended limit is no more than two to three units per day.

You shouldn't drink at all before strenuous exercise, operating machinery, or driving, or while taking certain medications.


Is excessive drinking bad for you?

Drinking excessivly on a regular basis seriously affect your long-term health. The more you drink the more damage you do to your body, especially your liver, including:

  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastritis
  • High blood pressure

There are many places where you can recieve help and support for dependence on alcohol including your local NHS alcohol help centre, your GP or visit the AA website for information about meetings and help reducing your alcohol intake.


During routine blood tests my blood showed elevated liver enzymes. What do elevated liver enzymes indicate?

Several things can cause elevated liver enzymes.  It depends on which particular enzymes are elevated.  For example a  mildly elevated Bilirubin may be a benign process called Gilbert's Disease.  However elevated levels of AST and ALT can be caused by excessive alcohol, several medications and infections such as  Hepititis A, B, C.  It may also be caused by problems in the GI tract such as pancreatitis and gallbladder stones.  Your GP should be able to explain your results to you and refer you if you require any specialist treatment.


What are liver function tests?

A liver function test is a common blood test.  Doctors do this test to investigate how well your liver is functioning.  Sometimes it is just a routine test to rule out liver disease while investigating symptoms.  A liver function test is actually a series of tests to look for different things within a sample of your blood.  This is why it is usually called ‘liver function tests’, or LFTs for short.


Did you know...

Fatigue, aches, and painful joints and muscles, frequent headaches, stress and appetite changes may be symptoms of an over-worked liver.