Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis is a serious condition in which the liver becomes scarred, making it difficult for the organ to function properly. It is caused by long-term damage from chronic illnesses, such as Hepatitis C or alcohol abuse. Cirrhosis can lead to a host of other issues, including liver failure, ascites, encephalopathy, and cancer.

Causes of Cirrhosis of the Liver

Causes of cirrhosis of the liver include:

  • Alcoholic liver disease: Excessive alcohol use can lead to fat build-up within the liver, known as fatty liver, which can lead to inflammation and scarring as the body attempts to repair and heal itself.
  • Viral hepatitis: Viral hepatitis infections, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, can cause inflammation and scarring that can lead to cirrhosis.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Excessive fat production by the liver, not associated with excessive alcohol use, can build up the liver and cause inflammation and scarring that may lead to cirrhosis.
  • Obstructive biliary diseases: Conditions that interfere with the flow of bile within the liver can cause inflammation and scarring that can lead to cirrhosis.
  • Toxic hepatitis: Certain medications, toxic chemicals, and other substances can cause liver damage and potentially lead to cirrhosis.

Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver

The progression of cirrhosis is slow, and in some cases, the symptoms may not be noticeable until the condition has advanced. Symptoms of cirrhosis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen
  • Itching
  • Swelling in the legs and abdomen due to fluid retention
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin, known as jaundice
  • Enlarged veins in the esophagus and upper abdomen

Diagnosis of Cirrhosis of the Liver

To diagnose cirrhosis, doctors typically do a physical exam and may ask questions about alcohol and drug use. Blood tests may be done to check for liver and clotting problems, to measure levels of enzymes and proteins from the liver, and to check for liver damage. A CT scan or MRI may also be done to check for signs of liver damage. Additionally, doctors may recommend a biopsy, which is a procedure in which a small sample of the liver is taken for examination under a microscope. A biopsy is usually the most accurate way to diagnose cirrhosis.

Treatment of Cirrhosis of the Liver

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the cirrhosis. For example, abstaining from alcohol or Drug use is essential for patients with alcoholic or Drug-induced cirrhosis. Other treatments may include medications to reduce inflammation, antibiotics to reduce infection, surgery to correct any structural abnormalities, or even a liver transplant.

Cirrhosis is a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated. It’s important to seek prompt medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms described above. With early diagnosis and treatment, the progression of cirrhosis can often be slowed or prevented.