Published Feb 5, 2001
I am a student nurse studying in Newcastle, England. I asked for help a few weeks ago with and assignment about the ethics invloved in treating alcoholics. I now need a little help with part B of this assignment which is to do with the biological effects of alcohol abuse. I am focusing mainly on cirrhosis of the liver. My assignment must include an explanation of normal liver functions in detoxifying alcohol, altered physiology of the liver due to cirrhosis, and how this altered physiology effects the activities of living for the individual. I already have quite a bit covered but would be very grateful if anyone could point me in the right direction so I know I'm on the right lines. Also I would be grateful if anyone could recommend any books, reports or web-sites that I may find helpful.
Have you thought about doing a patho-flow-diagram? That's what we called them anyways. You list a change at the top caused by alcohol (like how it messes with clotting factors or how it creates portal hypertension) then an arrow from the change to its results (like bleeding or ascites) then from there you list the implications for daily living (like having a big ol' belly really sucks) or its implication for the nurses caring for these people. It is just a really easy way of seeing how your ideas come together.
The normal functioning of the liver detoxifying alcohol should be fairly easy to get straight from a textbook. Everything that's normal should be on your diagram because it is impaired by cirhosis so you can check to see it's all there.
You might want to also think about alcohol withdrawal which can be FATAL. Ask any instructor about those damn DTs. Until I had a DT patient admitted I had no idea you could give alcohol IV! Which gave me a good idea for parties...
Don't forget to include some information on the results of poor nutrition. Most alcohol abusers are malnourished and this leads to many more problems.
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I once had a similar assignment years back in nursing school having to combine NIDDM with an AWMI. I choose to present it as a case study that I created using information from the history of my grandmother. It flowed very nicely. I was able to break off of the main part of the case study for "review" of information pertinant to the diagnosis, but wrap it all up in the case study, including a potential outcome of the patient. Just a thought. Hope it helps.
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