1What causes Cirrhosis?
There are multiple causes damaging liver, usually over a long period of time running in years resulting in cirrhosis. The most common causes of chronic liver disease include long-term Hepatitis C and B infection and heavy alcohol consumption, obesity, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, diseases that affects bile ducts, drugs, prolonged exposure to chemical/toxins, and parasitic infections.
2What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?
Many people are asymptomatic in early stages of the disease and it may be incidentaly detected on evaluation for other illness. As the disease progresses, symptoms like weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight, nausea, vomiting, pain in abdomen, fullness, bloating, itching, yellowing of skin or eyes or urine, confusion, impotence, swelling of feet, and blood vomiting may appear.
3How is cirrhosis diagnosed?
Cirrhosis is diagnosed based on history of alcohol use, chronic hepatitis or obesity and along with findings of physical examination of the abdomen, your physician may order blood tests and ultrasound to evaluate your condition. Additionally, CT scans, MRI scans or endoscopy may be performed in order to view the liver for signs of enlargement, reduced blood flow or ascites etc. Finally, a liver biopsy may be needed to assess the extent of liver damage.
4Why to worry about cirrhosis?
As liver function deteriorates, one or more complications may develop. In most cases, complications may be the first sign of the disease and may result in hospitalization. This includes:
Bruising and easy bleeding
Leg Edema and fluid in abdomen
Blood vomiting (Varices-enlarged blood vessels prone to bursting in food pipe)
Stomach wall congestion(Gastropathy)
Hepatic encephalophathy (confusion or altered brain function caused by liver failure)
Immune system dysfunction leading to infections
Kidney and lung failure
5What is the treatment for cirrhosis?
The goals of treatment generally are to prevent further liver damage and reduce/treat complications. Typically, this includes life-style changes like avoiding alcohol and drugs, limiting salt in the diet, and getting vaccinated for influenza and Hepatitis A & B. If complications of cirrhosis arise, specific treatment for those symptoms may include medication, endoscopy, or other therapies.If diagnosed in early stage and is due to some treatable causes like alcohol, hepatitis B and C, cirrhoisis can be treated.
When cirrhosis progression and complications cannot be controlled by treatment and liver failure is progressive, your physician may determine a liver transplant may be the best option for you.
This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician .