The term liver cirrhosis denotes the multiple chronic liver diseases wherein usual liver cells get damaged and scar tissues replace it. As a result of scar tissue development, the quantity of usual liver tissue reduces and leads to malfunctioning of liver. Liver is an important organ of the digestive system. Liver cirrhosis is considered as a serious liver disorder.
Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis
Development of liver cirrhosis is a gradual process it does not surface all of sudden. Unfortunately, liver cirrhosis does not display any symptoms during the stage of development. Symptoms are experienced when the liver cirrhosis has reached fully developed stage. Symptoms are associated with the severity of liver cirrhosis. Following are some of the common symptoms.
- Loss of appetite
- Intense itching
- Weakness or weight loss
- Dark colored skin
- Nose bleeds
- Enlargement of breast in men
- Retention of fluid in abdomen and legs caused due to decrease in the production of albumin (a type of protein) by liver. This lowered albumin level in the blood results in fluid retention.
- Jaundice. When the production of bile in compromised by the liver, bile may back up into the blood. This results in turning of skin and eyes in yellow and dark urine.
- Gallstones. Gallstones are result of abnormal bile production.
- Blood clotting difficulties. A type of protein produced by liver is helpful in blood clotting. When this protein is not produced in sufficient quantity it leads in difficulty in blood clotting.
- Bleeding of esophageal vein. It is a characteristic of advanced cirrhosis.
Causes responsible for Cirrhosis
- Alcoholic liver disease. For most of the people, liver cirrhosis is synonymous to that chronic alcoholism but is only one of the factors. It develops only after prolonged period of heavy drinking. Even two or three drinks every day, in women and three to four drinks every day, in men may result in cirrhosis. Alcohol blocks the usual protein, carbohydrate and fats metabolism.
- Chronic Hepatitis C. It is another major cause behind liver cirrhosis. Hepatitis C virus infection causes inflammation liver and also leads to low grade liver damage. Such persistent condition for prolonged period may result in liver cirrhosis.
- Chronic Hepatitis B and Hepatitis D. Hepatitis B virus is most common cause responsible for liver cirrhosis in most part of the world except in America and some western countries. Hepatitis B causes liver inflammation and damage to the liver which leads to cirrhosis over period of time. Hepatitis D virus infects the liver of people who already have hepatitis B.
- Autoimmune Hepatitis. It occurs due to attacks on liver by body’s immune system. It leads to inflammation and damage of liver and results in cirrhosis.
- Inherited diseases. Inherited diseases like Wilson’s disease, glycogen storage diseases, Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and galactosemia interfere with the handling of proteins, enzymes, metals etc in the liver that could result in liver disorders. And such liver disorders may result in cirrhosis.
- Non-Alcoholic Steato Hepatitis. In this condition the fat build up in the liver causes scar tissues. Factors like protein malnutrition, diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity and corticosteroid medications are considered to be associated with occurrence of this type of hepatitis.
- Blockage of bile ducts. As a result of blockage of bile duct the bile backs up and damages the liver tissues. In infants, such blockage is considered as result of biliary atresia disease. In this disease the bile ducts are injured or absent. Primary biliary cirrhosis that inflames, blocks and scars the ducts is considered as main cause in adults. If the ducts are injured or tied off inadvertently, after gallbladder surgery, secondary biliary cirrhosis may occur.
- Infections, Toxins and Drugs. Exposure to environmental toxins for longer periods, recurrent heart failure bouts combined with liver congestion, parasitic infection (schistosomiasis) and reactions to prescription drugs may lead to development of cirrhosis.
- Cystic fibrosis
- Unusual storage of copper
Treatment of Liver Cirrhosis
The treatment of liver cirrhosis depends upon the root cause of its development. In more severe case one may have to undergo liver transplant.
Complications resulted from Liver Cirrhosis
Following are some of the common complications produced by Liver Cirrhosis.
- Liver cancer
- Severe internal bleeding
- Blood poisoning