The liver performs numerous essential functions to keep the body functioning optimally. It detoxifies the blood, manufactures important blood proteins and bile which aids in digestion, helps the body utilize nutrients and glucose, and breaks down saturated fat. The liver is the largest organ in the body, and may suffer from ‘cirrhosis’ for a number of reasons.
What is liver cirrhosis? It is a disease in which healthy liver tissue is slowly replaced by scar tissue, preventing the liver from performing and maintaining its regular functions. Liver cirrhosis develops slowly, and may often go undetected until the liver is sufficiently damaged. It is listed as the twelfth leading cause of death by disease according to the National Institute of Health
Fatty liver, hepatitis C and excessive alcohol consumption are the popularly known liver cirrhosis causes. However, there are other reasons for liver cirrhosis too. These include obesity, diabetes, liver chronic viral infections such as hepatitis B, C and D, blockage of the bile duct, bile duct damage due to primary biliary cirrhosis, repeated heart failure, cystic fibrosis, inherited glycogen storage diseases, inherited Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease.
Other rare causes of liver cirrhosis include internal reactions to medication, excessive exposure to toxins or parasitic infections.
There may be no visible symptoms in the initial stages of the disease. As the disease progresses, however, sufferers may experience a combination of numerous liver cirrhosis symptoms. These include sudden fatigue, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss or gain, itching of skin, jaundice, sudden bruising, edema (fluid retention) and obvious swelling of the ankles, stomach and legs, and fever. Other symptoms include light colored or bloody stool, brown or orange tinted urine, sudden mood and personality changes, and disorientation.
As the disease progresses, other more serious health complications may arise. These include variceal bleeding, kidney failure, hepatic encephalopathy (mood changes and in serious conditions, even coma), diabetes, excessive bruising, excess bleeding, reduced immunity, premature menopause, breast enlargement in male sufferers, sudden loss in muscle mass, fluctuating blood count and decrease in the oxygen level in the blood.
Liver cirrhosis can be diagnosed in the following ways:
Various treatments are applied depending upon the cause and severity of the disease. If the cirrhosis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, the sufferer is required to completely stop their alcohol intake. If the cirrhosis is caused by hepatitis, steroids or antiviral drugs are used. If the cirrhosis is caused by autoimmune diseases, Wilson’s disease or hemochromatosis, various different medications will be prescribed to halt the progression of the disease.
In extremely severe cases of liver cirrhosis, a liver transplant may be required.
Liver cirrhosis cannot be entirely cured. Treatments focus on halting or slowing down the process of scarring or cirrhosis. Consult a doctor as soon as you detect any of the aforementioned liver cirrhosis symptoms. The sooner the cirrhosis is detected, the better are the chances of success in the treatment.
Cirrhosis of the liver (webmd.com/digestive-disorders/cirrhosis-liver)
Cirrhosis-topic overview webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/cirrhosis-topic-overview)