Cirrhosis is a deadly disease of the liver. For a better understanding, this HealthHearty article will tell you more about its stages, symptoms, and treatment.
Liver is the most important organ of the body. It helps in metabolism, formation of glycogen, maintaining blood sugar level, and the production of different enzymes which help in different metabolic processes. So you can imagine the state of the body when our liver malfunctions. Cirrhosis is a chronic disease of the liver, in which there is a distortion of the liver as the liver cells and tissues are damaged. This distortion leads to blockage of the blood flow. All this gradually leads to the functional failure of the liver. Let’s look at the different liver cirrhosis stages and symptoms.
In this stage, the tissue damage in the liver has gradually started. The symptoms are weakness, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, enlargement and tenderness of the upper right abdomen, increased itchiness all over the body. Patients exhibiting such symptoms should not ignore them, they should consult a doctor, and undergo a biopsy.
In this stage, the damaged tissues transform into stiff bands of connective tissue (fibrosis). The fibrosis spreads to other areas of the liver. This is the stage in which jaundice can occur, as bile pigments build up.
In this phase, the liver reaches a stage of partial dysfunction. There is enlargement of areas affected by fibrosis. Patients in this stage can get gallstones, as there is not enough bile juice left in the liver. As the liver is not functioning, there is a build up of toxins, which can lead to mental disorders.
This is the final stage which is characterized by fluid retention. Even liver cancer can occur at this stage, it can also cause lung and kidney failure. All this leads to total failure of liver.
Cirrhosis is caused by various factors, the most common are, excessive consumption of alcohol, hepatitis B and C. It is not caused overnight, but is caused due to damage of liver cells over a long period of time. Let’s look at the causes of cirrhosis.
Alcohol: Excessive intake of alcohol over the years leads to liver damage. Majority of people die due to alcohol caused cirrhosis.
Hepatitis: It is caused by a virus, which leads to liver infection, and also causes inflammation of liver.
Heart disease: Hypertension is known to cause liver congestion, which can lead to liver problems.
Genetic problems: Excess build up of iron in the liver causes hemochromatosis, which can also lead to cirrhosis. Pancreatic or bile duct cancer can also lead to cirrhosis.
If you observe any symptoms you must immediately consult a doctor, who may carry out a blood test or biopsy. The tests will detect the abnormality in the liver, if any. You can undergo an ultrasound or CT scan, which can detect any abnormal enlargement of liver. Reduce the intake of alcohol. People drinking 3-4 units per day, for many years, are at risk of developing this disease. As cirrhosis can be caused by diseases like hepatitis which are infectious, one must avoid contact with used or contaminated needles and syringes. Proper vaccination can also prevent hepatitis. People addicted to alcohol can opt for alcohol rehabilitation.
Treatment can vary according to the stages of cirrhosis. In alcohol-related cirrhosis there is a need for complete abstinence from alcohol. Whereas with illness related to hepatitis, drugs can help to eliminate the virus. In hemochromatosis, treatment involves removal of excess iron. There is no definite cure for cirrhosis, but treatment can slow down the degradation of liver. If cirrhosis is detected, and it is in the last stage, liver transplant is the last viable option.
Life expectancy of affected individuals is not more than ten years. According to a study, only 30% of people survive for five years after the diagnosis and proper treatment of cirrhosis. Though it is a deadly and incurable disease, it can be prevented by following a good, healthy lifestyle, and most importantly by maintaining abstinence from alcohol.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.