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What is Cirrhosis of the Liver? Signs, Prevention and Treatment Methods You Should Know

Dr. Ajay KohliNov 22, 2022

Cirrhosis (scarring of the hepatic lobules) affects the largest gland of the human body, the liver. It could be a side effect of lethal disorders (hepatitis C) or the resulting effect of chronic alcoholism. 

Are you worried about your liver health? This blog will provide vital information on symptoms and needful guidance for treating liver cirrhosis.

Liver Cirrhosis

Contents

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Liver Cirrhosis: Overview

Cirrhosis of the liver is a chronic condition that affects the natural functioning of hepatocytes and lobules as these turn into scarring tissues. It could happen from a pathogenic attack (hepatitis C) or side effects of prolonged alcohol abuse. 

Most patients have little idea of liver cirrhosis during the early stage of this condition. Scarred tissues prevent natural circulation in the liver, ultimately destroying its metabolic properties, and leading to liver failure.

Who is Prone to Develop Liver Cirrhosis?

Individuals having one or more of the following conditions are most vulnerable to developing liver cirrhosis:

  • History of alcoholism

  • Having inherited liver ailments (hereditary haemochromatosis)

  • History of hepatitis infection

  • Experiencing non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome

  • Side effects of auto-immune conditions

Liver Cirrhosis: Know Your Symptoms

Liver cirrhosis symptoms include general discomfort and area-specific reactions, making it easier for a health-conscious individual to visit a physician at the earliest.

Symptoms include:

  • Unexplained fatigue

  • Abdominal pain (blunt, below the right ribs)

  • Reduced appetite and nausea

  • Lose weight

  • Contracting illnesses frequently (poor immunity)

  • Skin irritation

  • Developing red patches (on palms) and exposed blood vessels with a spider-like appearance (telangiectasias)

  • Reduced libido and yellowing of the skin 

  • Passing dark urine and yellowed stool (excess liver pigment presence)

What Causes Cirrhosis of the Liver?

Liver cirrhosis patients often have a history of chronic alcoholism. However, physicians also deal with individuals who develop cirrhosis from add-on complications.

Causes include:

  • Chronic alcoholism (alcoholic fatty liver syndrome)

  • Consuming a protein-rich diet (leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome)

  • Lack of exercise causing fat build-up around the biliary cells

  • Hepatitis B/C infection

  • Auto-immune disorders (cystic fibrosis, primary biliary cholangitis, haemochromatosis) 

  • Developing hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer)

  • Biliary atresia blocking the natural functioning of liver cells, leading to scarring

Progression of Liver Cirrhosis: Stages

Liver cirrhosis is the final stage (before liver failure) of any chronic liver illness. Depending on the infection, it comprises 4 stages:

  • Inflammation (liver struggles as toxin level in blood increases beyond natural).

  • Fibrosis (lack of circulation leading to scar tissue formation gradually damaging the liver beyond repair).

  • Cirrhosis (the prevalent symptoms appear at this stage as the liver condition is beyond repair and requires immediate surgery to prevent the spreading of infection).

  • Liver failure (the final stage of infection where the liver experiences complete shutdown and liver transplantation is the only solution).

How is Potential Cirrhosis of the Liver Diagnosed?

Treating or stopping liver cirrhosis from further getting worse is only possible through early detection. If you experience unexplained abdominal pain or pass abnormal urine/stools, consult your physician for a prompt diagnosis. 

The process might include:

  • Physician inspection (checking for swollen skin around the abdomen, and yellowing of the skin, palm, and foot).

  • Pathological examination (performing blood, urine and stool tests).

  • Imagery diagnosis (MRI, abdominal X-ray, CT scan and USG elastography provides a detailed diagnosis of the underlying liver infection).

  • Biopsy examination to detect potential carcinogenic activities in the biliary tissues provides a thorough understanding of the biochemical state of the infection.

Which Treatments are Available for Liver Cirrhosis?

Liver cirrhosis is a life-threatening condition, yet it's treatable to cure. The nature of treatment depends on the stage of the infection and its severity, which includes medicinal, surgical and therapeutic remedies to ease the underlying condition.

Treatment methods include:

Personal Care

Consuming a preventive diet comprising edibles with little or no fat content, a low-glycemic diet, and a balanced intake of fluid (low sodium) reduces additional stress on the already affected liver.

Medications

Treating underlying infections (hepatitis) and reducing fluid build-up through diuretics, lowers excess stress on the liver.

Besides these, beta-blockers, antibiotics, retroviral and ammonia reducers, prevent counter underlying ailments from harming the liver.

Clinical Procedures

  • Rubber band ligation (tying off the dilated vessel to let it wither without harming the healthy cells).

  • Therapeutic endoscopy (observing the affected liver tissues to decide whether medication or surgery is the preferred route of treatment).

  • Trans-jugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (adding a stent to relieve build-up in the veins).

Surgical Procedures

A hepatologist (liver specialist) may perform surgery to remove the damaged tissue or perform an overhaul through complete liver transplantation. 

How to Prevent Cirrhosis of the Liver?

Unless you have a record of auto-immune liver issues, you can avoid developing liver cirrhosis. Here are some preventive remedies:

Stick to a Balanced Diet

Not consuming fatty, high-protein, or excessively salted foods is the first defence against developing liver problems. This reduces fat deposition in the biliary tissues, while fresh fruits and green vegetables promote a sense of complete well-being.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is the worst enemy of your digestive system. Chronic drinking habits damage metabolic functions, causing the scarring of biliary tissues in the later stages of liver cirrhosis. 

Get Regular Health Check-Ups

Nothing helps better than a regular check-up to diagnose any potential health anomalies. Since liver cirrhosis is often a lifestyle-triggered condition, getting regular health check-ups ensures early detection.

Avoid Self-Administration of Medications

Medicinal side effects are a leading cause of liver damage. Relying on excess OTC medications leads to drug intolerance, besides affecting the natural metabolism of the liver. Always take prescribed medications and abstain from prolonged usage without further consultation. 

Why It's Necessary to Have Medical Insurance for Liver Cirrhosis?

Medical insurance ensures a hassle-free treatment of liver cirrhosis. Besides, it covers your financial needs should you have to undergo liver transplantation. Since medical emergencies are always abrupt, patients might find it difficult to choose a convenient insurance offer. 

Do you need a comprehensive medical insurance package? Check out the latest offers from ACKO, providing the best-in-class clinical coverage for all hospital visits anywhere in India.

Conclusion

Liver cirrhosis is a critical health condition with a mortality rate of 1 in every 4-patients. However, early detection, liver transplantation and preventive lifestyle provide affected patients with an extended life post-treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a list of common questions and answers related to liver cirrhosis

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Is cirrhosis of the liver a curable condition?

Liver cirrhosis is treatable if detected early and with prompt treatment.

What is the median age of patients with liver cirrhosis?

Individuals over 40 primarily report liver cirrhosis, and the median age for the condition is around 51.

What is the life expectancy of patients having liver cirrhosis?

Individuals with decompensated liver cirrhosis have a life expectancy of over 12 years. Patients with compensated liver cirrhosis may live over two years or more since detection.

Are men at more risk than women from cirrhosis of the liver?

Both men and women can be prone to developing liver cirrhosis. However it is commonly seen in men due to higher chances of acute alcoholism.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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