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What is liver cirrhosis?
The liver is an organ that performs many important functions in the body including filtering the blood of harmful toxins and breaking down fat. Liver cirrhosis describes the condition where the liver becomes inflamed and scarred from late-stage liver disease and alcoholism. As more and more scar tissue forms, the functionality of the liver continually decreases. The different levels of severity of liver cirrhosis are broken down into four stages.
Stage 1: There is some scarring of liver tissue but not many symptoms and no complications.
Stage 2: More symptoms present including enlarged and swollen veins, and high blood pressure in the portal vein around the liver (portal hypertension).
Stage 3: Symptoms include swelling in the abdomen and advanced scarring of liver tissue, accompanied by serious complications and possibly liver failure.
Stage 4: Can be fatal without a liver transplant.
For additional information about liver cirrhosis and the treatments that are available, contact your local GI Alliance location and schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist.
What causes liver cirrhosis?
There are several reasons why a liver can be damaged - which can lead to cirrhosis. Some of the causes include the following:
- Viral liver infections- hepatitis B & C
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Chronic alcohol abuse
- Iron buildup in the body
- Genetic digestive disorder
- Cystic fibrosis
- Poorly formed bile ducts
- Wilson’s disease
- Sugar metabolism disorders
- Destruction of the bile ducts
- Certain medications
- Liver disease caused by autoimmune hepatitis
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
If you’ve experienced issues with your liver and you need assistance, contact the gastroenterologists at GI Alliance. Their knowledge and expertise will lead you in the right direction for reliable treatment.
What are the symptoms of liver cirrhosis?
The early stages of liver cirrhosis do not manifest themselves symptomatically but some of the first signs that you might feel could include fatigue, weakness, and lack of appetite. As the liver cirrhosis continues to advance, some of the symptoms may include:
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Bleed or bruise easily
- Swollen legs
- Swollen abdomen
- Red palms
- Spider web-like veins
- Muscle cramps
- Brownish urine
- Blood in the stool
How is liver cirrhosis treated?
Liver damage cannot be reversed but it can still function and bounce back even if two-thirds has been damaged, removed, or destroyed. Below are some of the treatment options our GI Alliance team may recommend to improve liver function.
- Prevention of further damage to the liver
- Addressing the specific complications of your cirrhosis
- Liver transplant
- Avoiding certain medications (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.)
- Antiviral medications for hepatitis B and C
- Immunization for hepatitis A and B
What are the complications of liver cirrhosis?
The liver plays a very important role in the body, and any damage done to the liver will impair its normal functions. Some of the possible complications of liver cirrhosis include:
- Bacterial peritonitis – inflammation of the abdomen wall
- Hepatic encephalopathy- the buildup of toxins in the blood leading to brain damage
- Hypersplenism – overactive splenic function
- Liver cancer
Specialized care for liver health
To discuss the treatment for cirrhosis of the liver in-depth, connect with a gastrointestinal physician at GI Alliance and schedule an appointment. The team is happy to help you discover a life in which further damage to the liver is prevented.
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