Liver sclerosis is a progressive ailment, in which the liver function is greatly impaired due to presence of scar tissues. The causal factors for this chronic liver ailment are many and varied. To understand what causes sclerosis of the liver, read on.
The liver organ performs some of the vital functions crucial for normal body functioning. It is a major excretory organ that benefits the body in getting rid of toxins and unwanted materials. Besides blood purification and detoxification, liver performs the main function of producing amino acids, proteins, urea, cholesterol, bile juice and other important biomolecules. Similar to other major organs, diseases of the liver do occur, of which liver sclerosis is one of them.
As the name goes, sclerosis of the liver refers to a condition in which the liver tissues develop scarring and become hardened due to certain problems. Such a case is more commonly known as liver cirrhosis. Over a course of time, the scar tissues gradually replace healthy ones, thereby disturbing the normal liver function.
What Causes Liver Sclerosis?
A characteristic feature of liver is ability to regenerate its cells (when needed), which does not happen with many of the bodily organs. Despite this, liver organ is susceptible to many ailments. Factors that contribute to increased incidences of liver disease are its large size, location and multitude of functions. But, what causes sclerosis of the liver organ? Hereditary and environmental factors along with lifestyle habits are the main contributors for developing liver cirrhosis.
Excess Alcohol Consumption: This is by far the most common cause of liver sclerosis amongst the American population. Chronic intake of alcohol over an extended period is the main reason for injury of liver tissues. Liver cirrhosis and other liver problems caused due to alcohol abuse are collectively known as alcohol-related liver disease.
Chronic Hepatitis: Under this, there are basically three types, viz. hepatitis B, hepatitis C and hepatitis D. They are viral diseases that affect the liver organ. In a patient diagnosed with any one of these liver infections, the liver cells are inflamed severely. The typical consequences are liver damage and scarring.
Autoimmune Hepatitis: By autoimmune hepatitis, we mean chronic inflammation of liver cells and tissues as a result of abnormal immune responses. In an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system reacts against the liver cells, leading to formation of scar tissues. If left untreated, it further progresses to liver cirrhosis.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: This medical complication is concentrated on the bile ducts, but not on the liver cells. The ducts are inflamed or injured, which in turn cause difficulty in draining of the bile juice. For an untreated case, bile accumulation along with cholesterol and other substances may lead to sclerosis of the liver.
Chronic Obesity: Obesity is a triggering factor for causing liver cirrhosis. The likeliness of exhibiting chronic liver disease is more, if an obese person has a habit of excessive drinking. In the same way, obesity coupled with chronic hepatitis increase the risk factors for liver sclerosis and its complications.
Fatty Liver Disease: We all know about fat accumulation in certain parts of the body. But, what if they get deposited in the liver? This is a condition known as fatty liver disease. Over here, the liver fats account to more than 5 percent of the total organ weight. This may cause liver sclerosis and alike complications.
Drug Abuse and Medicine Side Effect: Negative effects of prescription and recreation drugs include injury of the liver tissues, which may progress to liver sclerosis. In a healthy state, liver organ filters blood and removes substances without causing adverse reactions. With prolonged exposure to drugs and toxins, the liver develops scarring and injury.
Hereditary Diseases: There are several types of hereditary diseases, which directly or indirectly afflict the liver function. Examples include glycogen storage diseases, hemochromatosis, cystic fibrosis, Wilson disease, etc. People who have been diagnosed with any of these diseases are more likely to develop liver sclerosis than others.
Other Causes: For sclerosis of the liver, frequent episodes of heart failure is a known trigger. What happens is, the bodily fluids pass to the liver during the coronary failure bout, causing liver damage. Other reasons for liver cirrhosis are parasitic infections and viral infections.
Liver Sclerosis Symptoms and Treatment
As aforementioned, liver is responsible for performing many functions. However, the liver organ can no longer function normally in presence of scar tissues. In the initial stages, this liver disease remains asymptomatic. This may be because of the regeneration power of liver tissues. With disease progression, various signs and symptoms of liver sclerosis are manifested. The probable symptoms of liver sclerosis are listed below.
- Yellowish coloration of eyes and skin
- Change of appetite
- Increased fatigue
- Skin itchiness
- Easy bruising
- Nausea and vomiting
- Spider like blood vessels underneath skin
- Abdominal discomfort
- Weight loss without apparent reason
A severe life-threatening disease, prompt liver sclerosis treatment is proceeded soon after diagnosis is made. In most of the patients who have been diagnosed with liver sclerosis, more than one triggering factor is present. Therapeutic intervention for this chronic disease is aimed at slowing down the disease progression, addressing symptoms and minimizing complications. These can be achieved with medications specific for the symptoms and complications, and making lifestyle modifications.
The patients should consume healthy diet, refrain from alcohol and unhealthy habits (if applicable). Those patients with medical complications will require hospital stay for treating the accompanying symptoms. In severe cases, wherein disease complications cannot be dealt with therapeutic medications, a liver transplant surgery is suggested for treating liver sclerosis condition.