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How long should patients keep off alcohol after infectious hepatitis?


Patients recovering from infectious hepatitis have usually been advised to avoid alcohol for 6 – 12 months.1 2 The scientific basis for this is hard to find. A study of servicemen during the second World War suggested that relapse was more likely when patients resumed drinking within a few weeks of apparent clinical recovery. The intensity of jaundice appeared to increase when alcohol was taken during the illness, and alcohol taken during the incubation period of the hepatitis precipitated the appearance of jaundice.3 On this basis abstention from alcohol was recommended for a period of 3 – 6 weeks after the clinical illness. In another study on 114 patients 6 – 12 months after discharge from hospital after infectious hepatitis no relationship was found between drinking habits and the recurrence of hepatitis.4

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