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Liver Cirrhosis

  • What is Liver Cirrhosis?

    Liver cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver. The liver carries out many important functions including metabolism control, protein synthesis, vitamin and iron storage, bile production, as well as removal of toxins from the body. If the liver doesn’t work properly, it can lead to severe complications and even death.

    Cirrhosis occurs when healthy liver cells are replaced by scar tissues. Every time the liver is injured, it tries to repair itself and if the liver is continually injured, increasing number of healthy liver cells are replaced by scar tissue, leading to development of cirrhosis.

  • Liver cirrhosis can be caused by different liver diseases and conditions. The main causes include:

    • Chronic alcohol consumption
    • Hepatitis B and C infections

    Other causes include:

    • Autoimmune hepatitis, which is a liver disease caused by the body’s own immune system
    • Frequent exposure to environmental toxins and drugs
    • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is caused by fat build up in the liver
    • Poorly formed or blocked bile ducts, which cause the bile to build up in the liver
    • Primary biliary cirrhosis caused by destruction of the bile ducts that carry bile out of the liver
    • Schistosomiasis, which is a parasitic infection common in developing countries
    • Wilson’s disease caused by the build up of copper in the liver
  • Liver cirrhosis patients may not show any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. However, when the disease develops and enough liver damage has occurred, you will experience the following symptoms:

    • Black stools
    • Changes in personality and confusion in severe cases
    • Tiredness and sleepiness
    • Fluid build up in the abdomen (ascites)
    • Itchy skin
    • Jaundice (yellowish eyes and skin)
    • Loss of weight and loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Red spider-looking spots on your chest and back (spider angiomas)
    • Sleeping difficulties
    • Swelling of the legs (oedema)
    • Vomiting blood
  • The liver damage caused by cirrhosis cannot be reversed. However, there are treatment options available to prevent or delay further damage and complications. The treatment depends on the cause of the cirrhosis:

    • Cirrhosis caused by chronic alcohol abuse is treated by avoiding alcohol consumption
    • Cirrhosis caused by Wilson’s disease can be treated with medications that get rid of the copper
    • Hepatitis-related cirrhosis is treated with medication, depending on the type of hepatitis infection
    • Liver transplant may be necessary for end-stage liver disease patients
    • Mental confusion due to high levels of toxins in the blood and brain
    • High blood pressure in the liver (portal hypertension)
    • Increased risk of liver cancer
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    There are 25 SpecialistsView All