Cirrhosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Complications, And Treatment
When the liver is at the terminal stages of chronic liver disease and there is severe scarring of the liver occurs then Cirrhosis develops. This is caused by many forms of liver diseases such as hepatitis and chronic alcoholism. Every time when your liver is diagnosed with disease due to alcohol consumption, it tries to repair itself. The scarring of the liver is caused when the liver is exposed to toxins such as alcohol or other viral infections. As we know that the liver is located in the upper right side of the abdomen it does many essential body functions such as:-
- store sugar and vitamins,
- create blood clotting proteins,
- purify the blood and remove toxins from your system,
- produce bile, that absorbs dietary fats, cholesterol, and vitamins A, D, E, and K in our body,
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cirrhosis is one of the 12th leading diseases in the United States. It mostly affects men than in women.
How Cirrhosis Does Develops?
The liver is normally able to regenerate damaged cells but when cirrhosis develops then factors responsible for developing this disease are already present for a long time. When this happens then the liver starts to become scarred and doesn’t function properly which results in cirrhosis. It causes the liver to harden and shrink due to nutrient-rich blood doesn’t flow into the liver. When the blood doesn’t pass into the liver then pressure arises in the portal vein. This results in portal hypertension where the vein develops high blood pressure which causes esophageal varices.
What Causes Cirrhosis of the Liver
The long-term viral hepatitis C infection and chronic alcohol abuse cause Cirrhosis of the liver. Obesity is also one of the causes of cirrhosis though it is not as prevalent as alcoholism or hepatitis C. Cirrhosis develops in women who drink more alcoholic drinks per day for many years. A man who is drinking more drinks per day could develop a risk for cirrhosis. Cirrhosis which is caused by alcohol occurs during regular drinking for about the course of 10 or 12 years.
What are the 4 Stages of Cirrhosis of the Liver?
- Inflammation- In which the liver gets enlarged or inflamed.
- Fibrosis- Scar tissue starts to replace healthy tissue,
- Cirrhosis- Severe scarring continues to begin which makes it more difficult for the liver to function properly,
- End-stage liver disease (ESLD),
- Liver cancer
Other Causes of Cirrhosis
- Hepatitis D,
- Hepatitis B cause liver inflammation and damage,
- Inflammation caused by autoimmune disease,
- Damage to the bile ducts,
- body’s inability to handle iron and copper,
- Medications like acetaminophen, antibiotics, and some antidepressants.
What are the Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis?
The symptoms of cirrhosis occur when the liver is unable to purify the blood. It gets unable to break down toxins or produce clotting proteins. Have a look at a few symptoms that are as follows:-
- itchy skin
- weight loss
- nose bleeding
- decreased appetite
More serious symptoms-
- Abdominal swelling (Ascites)
- Confusion and difficulty in thinking
How Cirrhosis is Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of cirrhosis is done with a detailed history and physical exam. The history might reveal long-term alcohol abuse, family history of autoimmune diseases, your exposure to hepatitis C, or other risk factors. The physical exam can show signs such as:-
- pale skin
- hand tremors
- Small Testicles
- Reddened Palms
- Decreased Alertness
- Yellow Eyes (Jaundice)
- Enlarged Liver or spleen
- Excess breast tissue in men
Complications from Cirrhosis include:
- liver cancer
- kidney failure
- edema and ascites
- esophageal varices
- hepatic encephalopathy
- sensitivity to medications
- enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
- bruising due to low platelet count
- bleeding due to decreased clotting proteins
- insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Liver Cirrhosis Treatment
Treatment for cirrhosis depends upon what causes it and how far the disease has progressed yet. Some of the things that your doctor might prescribe to you are as follows-
- quit drinking alcohol
- beta-blockers or nitrates (for portal hypertension)
- hemodialysis (to purify the blood in kidney failure)
- lactulose and a low protein diet (to treat encephalopathy)
- banding procedures (to control bleeding from Esophageal varices)
- intravenous antibiotics (to treat peritonitis occurred due to Ascites)
Liver transplantation is the last option when other treatments have failed. Patients must stop drinking alcohol in order to protect their liver from such disease.