When Your Liver Gets Sick: Understanding Cirrhosis

What is Cirrhosis?

The liver is a large organ in our body that helps to remove toxins from the blood, regulate blood clotting, maintain adequate blood sugar levels and produces bile. A well functioning liver is essential to keeps us healthy. Cirrhosis is a condition where the liver is injured and scarred and eventually causing liver dysfunction. Cirrhosis/Liver injury can be commonly caused by excessive alcohol consumption, certain viruses, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. 

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms include extreme fatigue, weight loss without effort, a lack of appetite, and a swollen stomach. Yellowing of the skin and eyes, red spots on the skin, and redness on the palms of the hands may also occur in those affected.

Consult a doctor if you suspect cirrhosis or have any of the symptoms listed above. Early detection enables your doctor to provide appropriate follow-up and prevent serious complications. Furthermore, the doctor will attempt to identify the cause of the cirrhosis and will provide the necessary management and treatments.

Causes and Risk Factors

Cirrhosis is commonly caused by excessive alcohol consumption, viruses such as hepatitis B or C, and from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD occurs when too much fat accumulates in the liver, causing damage to it.

Risk factors

Risk factors for cirrhosis include drinking alcohol excessively, having certain viruses like hepatitis B or C, having NAFLD, having certain genetic conditions that affect the liver, and having certain autoimmune diseases that affect the liver.

The role of lifestyle changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes such as, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol, and reducing the risk of viral infections can help reduce the risk of cirrhosis.

How it’s treated

Treatment is determined by the underlying cause and stage of the disease. The primary goal of treatment is to control the underlying cause of the cirrhosis while also preventing or managing complications. Treatment options include symptom-controlling medications such as diuretics and vasodilators, dietary and lifestyle changes, and, in severe cases, surgery or liver transplantation.

Cirrhotic patients must strictly adhere to their doctor’s recommendations. This includes taking their medications as prescribed, going to regular check-ups, and adhering to any dietary or lifestyle changes that have been recommended.

In Conclusion

Cirrhosis is the end stage liver disease in which the liver becomes damaged and scarred. It can occur due to a number of factors, including excessive alcohol consumption, the presence of specific viruses, or the presence of a disease known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Early detection and treatment are critical for avoiding serious complications, managing symptoms, and maintaining as much liver function as possible. Consult a doctor if you suspect you have cirrhosis or have any of the symptoms listed above.

If you have any concerns or questions about cirrhosis or liver health, it’s important to talk to a doctor. They can help explain what’s happening and give you advice on how to take better care of yourself.

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