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Liver Cirrhosis - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Published on Sep 23, 2019 and last reviewed on Oct 03, 2019   -  6 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Irreversible scar formation in the liver is called liver cirrhosis. Read about its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Liver Cirrhosis - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
Contents

What Is Liver Cirrhosis?

Liver cirrhosis is the late stage of liver fibrosis, which is the scarring of the liver. It can result from many liver diseases like chronic alcoholism and hepatitis. The liver gets injured by disease or regular large volume alcohol consumption, and scar tissue is formed during these times due to repeated injury to liver tissue, as a mechanism where it tries to repair itself. Repeated injury and scar formation result in the progression of this disease, which can also be fatal. Advanced cirrhosis makes it difficult for the liver to function normally and increases the pressure in the portal venous system, often leading to edema (swelling) of legs, fluid collection in the abdomen, bleeding in the food pipe or stomach (due to dilated veins, otherwise called as varices in the esophagus or stomach).

The liver is present in the upper right side of the abdomen, and it performs essential body functions like:

Liver cirrhosis can usually not be reversed. But, early diagnosis helps prevent further damage to the liver. This condition develops over the years. Progressive damage to healthy liver tissue results in scar formation, which blocks the blood flow through the liver. The other causes of liver damage are viral infections and toxins. This condition affects men more than women.

What Are the Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis?

As the liver is unable to perform its functions, the following symptoms (early stages of cirrhosis are asymptomatic, symptoms appear only in late cirrhosis) of cirrhosis occur:

What Are the Causes of Liver Cirrhosis?

Diseases that can damage the liver tissues are:

What Are the Risk Factors for Liver Cirrhosis?

The factors that increase the risk of liver cirrhosis are:

What Are the Complications of Liver Cirrhosis?

The complications of liver cirrhosis are:

How Is Liver Cirrhosis Diagnosed?

If you are experiencing symptoms of liver cirrhosis and have a positive risk factor like alcohol abuse, viral hepatitis, etc., your doctor will take a detailed history and physical exam. Your doctor will suggest you get the following tests done:

How Is Liver Cirrhosis Treated?

Depending on the cause and extent of liver damage, the symptoms are treated, and the disease progression is slowed. If you have developed any complications, then it has to be treated. The cause of cirrhosis has to be identified and treated.

Early Cirrhosis:

Identifying and treating the cause can help minimize liver damage. The treatment options are:

Treatment for Complications:

Late Cirrhosis:

In the late stages of liver cirrhosis, as the liver does not function properly, the only option is liver transplantation.

Liver Transplantation - The diseased liver is replaced with a healthy donor liver. The entire organ can be transplanted from a deceased donor, or a part of a liver from a living donor can be used.

If you have been diagnosed with fatty liver, fibrosis or cirrhosis, frequent checkups, lifestyle changes, and medications can improve your outcome. To know more about ways to prevent liver cirrhosis, consult a gastroenterologist online.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions


1.

How long can a person live with liver cirrhosis?

Life expectancy depends on the severity of the disease and how well you alter your lifestyle to slow the progression of cirrhosis. In late-stage liver cirrhosis, only 50 % survive 2 years and 35 % survive 5 years.

2.

What are the symptoms seen in the final stages of cirrhosis of the liver?

In the final stages of liver cirrhosis, the scarring is so severe that most of the liver function is lost. The symptoms include easy bruising, severe itching, nausea, loss of appetite, jaundice, ascites, gastrointestinal tract bleeding, and memory problems. The only treatment option is liver transplantation.

3.

How to cure liver cirrhosis naturally?

Some tips to prevent the liver cirrhosis from worsening are:
- Stop drinking alcohol.
- Avoid taking painkillers and other medicines that affect the liver.
- Consume a low-salt diet.
- Consume a balanced diet.
- Include turmeric, papaya, Indian gooseberry (amla), avocados, etc., in your diet.

4.

How does your liver get cirrhosis?

There are various conditions that can result in scarring of the liver. The most common causes include chronic alcoholism and hepatitis C. Some of the other causes include nonalcoholic fatty liver, cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis, etc.

5.

How effective is stem cell therapy for liver cirrhosis?

Preclinical and clinical studies with stem cell-based therapy showed a reduction in fibrosis and regeneration of the damaged liver. It is believed to be a good alternative to liver transplantation.

6.

Is banana good for the liver?

Low levels of potassium are linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. So consuming food rich in potassium (like banana) helps prevent liver cirrhosis.

7.

What are the first signs of liver disease?

The early signs of liver disease are yellowing of the skin and sclera (jaundice), abdominal pain, itching, dark urine, pale stool, tiredness, nausea, and vomiting.

8.

Is there a cure for liver cirrhosis?

As of now, there is no cure for liver cirrhosis. By treating the cause, the disease progression can be slowed down. The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself. Thus, the liver can heal itself if the damage is not too much.

9.

How do you know if cirrhosis is getting worse?

If you are experiencing symptoms like fatigue, tiny red lines or spots on the skin (spider angiomas), easy bruising, weight loss, frequent nosebleeds, itching, jaundice, and fluid buildup in the stomach and legs, then it means the disease is progressing.

10.

Can smoking result in liver cirrhosis?

Yes, smoking can cause liver cirrhosis and cancer. The toxic chemicals present in cigarette smoke can result in inflammation of the liver, which can eventually cause cirrhosis.

Last reviewed at:
03 Oct 2019  -  6 min read

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Dr. A V Hussain Shihaz

Dr. A V Hussain Shihaz

MD, DNB (General Medicine), MNAMS, DNB (Gastroentrology), ESEGH(UK)

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