Liver (hepatic) cirrhosis is a chronic liver disease, caused by various diseases and conditions of the liver, such as hepatitis and chronic alcoholism. The liver is an organ that performs several important functions in the body, including detoxification of harmful substances in the body, helps in cleansing the blood as well as in the production of vital substances.
Liver cirrhosis can be described as a condition in which normal liver tissue is gradually replaced by fibrous connective tissue (scar tissue). The liver cirrhosis is mostly slow progressing disease and is often not characterized by symptoms in the earlier stages. As liver function begins to worsen, serious problems appear. Treatment of liver cirrhosis varies from patient to patient. In the final stage of the condition, liver transplantation may be the only solution.
The liver can be damaged by various different conditions which can lead to cirrhosis, some of the important ones are:
Chronic alcohol abuse
The most common cause of liver cirrhosis is chronic alcohol abuse. If you drink several glasses of any alcoholic beverage daily for years, it will not only bring you into a state of drunkenness and addiction but will also trigger the development of cirrhosis.
Long-term chronic viral hepatitis can also damage the liver, especially types B and C. It usually occurs after 20 years of developing hepatitis and can go much faster if the patient has an alcohol addiction.
The hepatic cirrhosis can be triggered by autoimmune diseases which can attack the liver instead of protecting it, causing inflammation that later develops into cirrhosis.
Excessive amounts of alcohol destroy the whole body, especially the liver. An alcoholic’s liver can no longer cleanse the body of toxins.
This category includes persons aged 45 to 65 years. During this period of life, liver degeneration is most often triggered, additionally fastened by habits and lifestyles.
People who are overweight often have liver problems. Physically inactive people who eat unhealthy tend to have increased BMI.
Hypervitaminosis resulting from excessive intake of Vitamin A can lead to poisoning and impaired liver function. Ignoring the symptoms leads to cirrhosis.
Signs and symptoms
Cirrhosis rarely shows any symptoms until the damage is severe, some of the important signs and symptoms include:
Fatigue and loss of energy
Loss of appetite and nausea
Spider angioma (spider naevus) – swollen blood vessels beneath the skin surface with central red spot and extensions which look like spider‘s web.
Jaundice – yellowish pigmentation of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by the inability of the liver to eliminate the excess of bilirubin.
Palmar erythema – redness in the palms of the hands
Ascites – fluid accumulation in the abdomen
Edema – swelling in legs, ankles or feet
Hepatic encephalopathy – Problems with memory, attention, and hard time answering questions are the first signs of brain damage caused by toxins due to impaired liver function. Advanced stages lead to coma
Liver cirrhosis therapy depends primarily on the cause and severeness of liver damage. Therapy may include the following:
Beta blockers and nitrates – these medication sare used to treat a common complication of cirrhosis called portal hypertension. This condition is characterized by hypertension in the hepatic portal system (a system of veins that come from the intestines to liver)
Intravenous antibiotics – medicines for the treatment of peritonitis, inflammation of the peritoneum due to ascites
Hemodialysis – a blood purification process
Stopping bleeding from esophageal veins
Treating alcoholism and avoiding any alcohol consumption
As a last resort, liver transplantation is used. This procedure is performed if previous forms of therapy do not show results.