Liver cirrhosis or hepatic cirrhosis is the end-stage liver disease, it is the impaired liver functions caused the formation of scar tissue known as fibrosis due to damage caused by liver disease. Most important risk factors are chronic alcoholism, viral hepatitis (HBV, HCV). It mostly happens over a long period of time. Though the damage caused to the liver cannot be undone, if caught early, cirrhosis can be kept in check through treatment.
How does cirrhosis develop in a person?
The liver is an important organ of the body with several important functions. It helps in filtering out the toxins from the blood, makes the enzymes for food digestion, acts as storehouse for nutrients and sugar and a helps a person in fighting off the infections. Every time there is damage to the liver due to viral infections or alcohol, it becomes injured and scarred. This hampers the proper functioning of the liver, resulting in cirrhosis. The cirrhosis scars harden and shrink the liver making it difficult for the nutrient rich blood to flow into the liver through the portal vein. This further leads to portal hypertension that can lead to burst and bleeding of the veins.
What are the common causes of cirrhosis?
Some of the most common causes of liver cirrhosis are as follows:
- Long-term alcohol abuse
- Chronic liver infections such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis due to fatty liver caused by diabetes and obesity
- Inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Wilson disease, Hemochromatosis, Alagille syndrome and any other disease that may damage the liver
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Disease that causes damage or blockage of the liver bile ducts
- Chronic heart failure
- Other rare diseases like amyloidosis causing abnormal liver deposits of a protein called amyloid that can further disrupt the regular liver functioning
What are the common symptoms of cirrhosis?
There are often no symptoms of cirrhosis until excessive damage to the liver has already been done. However, when they do occur, they may include:
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Edema or swelling of ankles and feet
- Itchy skin
- Jaundice like yellow discoloration of eyes and skin
- Accumulation of fluid in abdomen
- Redness in the palms of the hands
- Spiderlike blood vessels on skin
- Loss or absence of periods in women unrelated to menopause
- Loss of sex drive, breast enlargement or testicular atrophy in men
- Drowsiness, confusion or slurred speech.
How to treat Liver Cirrhosis?
Liver cirrhosis treatment depends upon the extent of damage caused by the disease. In certain cases, it is possible to minimize the damage caused through lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol intake, weight loss and drugs for controlling the progression of hepatitis. In other more severe cases, Liver transplant is the only option for treatment. Research is still going on developing other treatment framework in place to help in treating the fibrosis.
If you are really concerned about the health of your liver, it is important to talk to best hepatologist regarding the ways through which you can reduce the risk. Make an appointment with Accord Team of Doctors today for a complete health check-up.