ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CIRRHOSIS OF THE LIVER!
Before knowing about cirrhosis of the liver, you have to know how important a role liver plays in our body. Basically, the Liver is an organ for digesting food, storing energy, cleaning blood from inappropriate toxins, fighting infections, it regulates blood clotting, and also performing hundreds of other functions of our body. The term ‘liver disease’ is used to describe any liver disease. The liver carries out over 500 essential tasks. The liver is the largest organ in the body, it is about a size of a football, it is located beneath the rib cage in the right upper abdomen.
The Liver controls many functions, but some of the main functions are discussed below:
- Bile production and excretion
- Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs
- Metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
- Enzyme activation
- Synthesis of plasma proteins, such as albumin, and clotting factors
- Blood detoxification and purification
- Storage of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals.
Cirrhosis is a late-stage result of liver disease. In this disease, Scar cells take place of liver cells. You may not have symptoms in the first stage, but if scarring cells continue to increase, chances of liver failure will increase and that will be life-threatening. The last and the only way to get rid of advanced cirrhosis is to get a liver transplant.
Common causes of cirrhosis are alcohol consumption for many years, hepatitis, obese non-alcoholic liver, and other diseases. Many types of liver diseases and conditions injure healthy liver cells, causing cell death and inflammation. The damage that is done by cirrhosis to the liver cannot be restored, because it is permanent.
According to Health, Pharma & Medtech data, from 2015 to 2017 there were over 65 thousand alcohol-related cirrhosis deaths in the US. If you want to see more stats about cirrhosis, you can check it out on this link: Statista.
Any type of liver disease can cause cirrhosis of the liver, which increases your chance of liver cancer.
- Chronic alcohol abuse (by alcohol consumption for many years).
- Chronic viral hepatitis (B and C)
- Chronic history of liver disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver (due to obesity or having a bad diet).
There are also other diseases that lead to cirrhosis:
- Hemochromatosis (Iron accumulation in the body).
- Wilson’s disease (Copper accumulated in the liver).
- Cystic fibrosis (accumulation of thick mucus in the liver).
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (accumulation of abnormal proteins and nutrients in the liver).
- Poorly formed bile ducts (biliary atresia).
- Glycogen storage disease (Inherited disorders of sugar metabolism).
- Alagille syndrome (Affects bile flow).
- Liver disease is caused by your body’s immune system (autoimmune hepatitis).
- Primary biliary cirrhosis (Bile ducts get destroyed and get permanently damaged).
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis (Bile becomes hardened and narrow).
- The one who abuse alcohol for many years.
- Having diabetes
- Have hepatitis (B or C)
- Being overweight
- Having a chronic medical history of liver disease.
In the beginning stages, you may not of any symptoms of cirrhosis, but by the time cirrhosis get worse, symptoms can clearly be identified.
- Easily bleeding or bruising.
- Loss of appetite.
- Swelling in your legs (Edema).
- Weight loss.
- Itchy skin.
- Yellow tint to the skin and eyes (jaundice).
- Fluid accumulation in your abdomen (ascites).
- Spider-web blood patches on your skin.
- Redness in the palms of your hands.
- Confusion, overthinking, and irritation (hepatic encephalopathy).
This is the most common complication in which blood pressure increases in the portal vein (The portal vein is a blood vessel that delivers blood to the liver from the stomach, intestines, spleen, and pancreas). The pressure increases due to the blockage of blood supply through your liver. When blood supply blocks, these veins enlarge which can cause bleeding or even bursting.
There are also other complications:
- Swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet (Edema).
- A build-up of fluids in your abdomen (called ascites).
- Swelling/enlargement of your spleen (splenomegaly).
- Formation and dilation (expansion) of blood vessels in the lungs, leading to low levels of oxygen in the blood and body and shortness of breath.
- Failure of kidney function as a result of having portal hypertension as a complication of cirrhosis (hepatorenal syndrome). This is a type of kidney failure.
- Confusion, Overthinking, changes in your behavior, even coma. This occurs when toxins from your intestines aren’t removed by your damaged liver and circulate in the bloodstream and build up in your brain (a condition called hepatic encephalopathy).
If you’re suffering from cirrhosis, your body may face difficulties from fighting liver infections, such as bacterial peritonitis.
Infected liver slowdowns the process of nutrition and proteins which can cause weight loss and weakness.
In most cases, people with liver cancer or even any other liver disease have liver cirrhosis.
Advanced cirrhosis or any other liver disease can cause liver failure.
Hypersplenism causes the destruction of blood cells.
By the time cirrhosis gets worse, the scarring on the liver increases, which stops the liver from functioning. In the last stage, cirrhosis liver will be life-threatening. The damage that is already done cannot be restored but can be stopped by liver transplantation only.
If you are diagnosed with liver cirrhosis by doctors, then you’re already above the first stage of cirrhosis. He probably said that you are diagnosed with ‘compensated’ or ‘decompensated’ cirrhosis.
In compensated cirrhosis, there are symptoms that cannot be noticed. In this stage scarring on the liver starts. Median survival in patients with compensated cirrhosis is approximately nine to 12 years.
In decompensated cirrhosis, the scarring on the liver increases, the liver’s condition gets worse and you started getting severe symptoms. Median survival in patients with decompensated cirrhosis is approximately two years.