Liver Cirrhosis

Liver Cirrhosis

Our liver carries out a wide variety of essential functions such as metabolic regulation, protein synthesis, vitamin and iron storage, bile production as well as the removal of toxins from the body. If it ceases to function properly, this can lead to various complications that are severe and may even lead to death.

When a liver becomes injured whether externally or internally, its healthy cells can become replaced with scar tissues. If the injury continues, this causes the liver to continuously repair itself and more healthy cells are replaced with scar tissue leading to what is known as Liver Cirrhosis.
Causes

Scarring of liver tissue can be due to several factors, but the main suspects usually are chronic alcohol consumption as well as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections.

However, there are other risk factors that contribute to Liver Cirrhosis such as:

  • 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 accumulation 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 accumulation of copper in the liver
Symptoms

Though patients with Liver Cirrhosis don't really exhibit any symptoms at early stages, the disease can progress if left untreated and they may experience the following symptoms once significant liver damage has occurred:

  • Black stools
  • Changes in personality and confusion in severe cases
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen (Ascites)
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundice (yellow 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
Treatment

Unfortunately, damage caused by Liver Cirrhosis cannot be reversed but there is good news. Treatment options are available to help prevent or delay the onset of further damage and complications associated with Liver Cirrhosis such as:

  • 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
Complications and Related Diseases

Because the liver is a key organ that helps processes across various other parts of the body, some of these related complications and diseases may develop if Liver Cirrhosis is not taken care of:

  • Brain 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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