If you are diagnosed by your physician with cirrhosis of the liver, it means you have a condition that replaces healthy cells of the liver with scar tissue. It generally happens as a result of alcohol abuse or liver infection. For a long time, the symptoms can go unnoticed. If it goes on long enough, liver damage can be irreversible. But, if diagnosed early, the symptoms can be managed, offering longevity to those afflicted.
The liver is a self-repairing organ that filters toxins from the blood and produce digestive enzymes to break down food. And the liver helps fight infections. However, if damage to the liver reaches a certain threshold, it cannot be repaired and can lead to organ failure.
This piece covers the symptoms, causes, and treatment of cirrhosis of the liver to help people understand the severity of this liver condition.
What Is Cirrhosis of the Liver?
Liver cirrhosis is a term that can mean many liver conditions. Liver cirrhosis is characterized because of irregular function and structure of the liver. The causes of liver cirrhosis are damaged liver tissues that result in fibrosis.
The tissue damage isn’t reversible. For patients suffering from end-stage liver disease, the only course of treatment is a liver transplant with varying chances of success.
The symptoms of cirrhosis usually occur as the disease reaches its later stages. Some people begin to notice prominent symptoms in the third stage of cirrhosis. Here are few common cirrhosis symptoms.
- Yellowing of the skin, eyes, and nails due to high bilirubin levels in the blood.
- Swelling in the lower body (edema) and abdomen area (ascites formation)
- Softening of skin tissue that causes easy bruising and bleeding
- Loss of appetite and vomiting in the later stages
- Loss of memory, confusion, difficulty with decision making
- Redness in the palms
- Light yellowish stool and urine
- Brown- and orange-colored urine.
Sometimes, loss of appetite is the only early sign of cirrhosis. it is wise to search for emergency rooms and check your levels
Causes of Liver Cirrhosis
There are many health conditions and external factors that can cause cirrhosis. Here are some prominent causes.
- Excessive alcohol consumption or suffering from alcohol dependency syndrome
- Accumulation of fat in the liver
- Progression of chronic viral hepatitis
- Excessive iron buildup
- Liver conditions caused by your immune system
- Scarring and hardening of liver tissues.
- Development of cystic fibrosis
- Copper accumulation in the liver
Cirrhosis is the later, or advanced, stage of the liver condition. In the early stages, the liver only experiences inflammation, but prolonged issues can lead to fibrosis. If the fibrosis is left untreated, it can lead to liver cirrhosis. Here are the four stages of cirrhosis.
- Compensated cirrhosis is the term used for first-stage cirrhosis; it involves less scarring with no signs. At this stage, there are few to no complications.
- Stage two introduces the development of varices (enlarged veins) and worsening hypertension.
- The third stage involves ascites development and advanced scarring. This stage comes under decompensated cirrhosis and can even lead to severe complications like liver failure.
- The fourth stage is end-stage liver disease. At this point, the disease is fatal without an urgent transplant to survive.
Related health complications
Jaundice: Jaundice happens when a damaged liver cannot remove bilirubin (a compound in bile) from the blood. Over time, the buildup increases, causing yellowing of the eyes and skin coupled with darkening of urine.
Hepatic encephalopathy: A damaged liver cannot clear toxins from the blood, which can lead to toxin buildup in the brain. This can cause mental confusion and in the worst cases can lead to falling into an unresponsive coma.
Development of ascites and edema: As the portal vein experiences a lot of pressure, it leads to fluid accumulation in the legs and abdomen. The fluid buildup in the legs is called edema, and the build-up in the stomach is ascites.
Infections: Ascites can result in severe infections like bacterial peritonitis.
The treatment depends on liver disease. The main goal will be to stop the progression of fibrosis and treat the complications.
The first thing you need to do is stop or slow the triggers to prevent further scarring. Some ways to do that include:
- If you are an alcoholic, quit drinking right away. Try an addiction treatment program to get help for your drinking problem, and try meditation
- If your liver cirrhosis is caused due to fat buildup, try eating a healthier diet.
- Consume enough protein; cirrhosis patients need it the most
- Do not give up on fluids even after ascites development
- Instead, ask for diuretics from the doctor
- Take prescribed drugs for constipation
- Keep a low-sodium diet at all costs.
Patients facing end-stage liver disease may need a liver transplant to survive, otherwise, the organ will stop functioning and can even lead to cancer. For any cirrhosis-related issues, contact urgent care Frisco to learn more about the disease.
This life-threatening condition can be managed by early assessment of symptoms. However, complete abstinence from alcohol can prevent alcoholic liver cirrhosis if diagnosed early.
Remember, prevention is better than a cure!