Liver cirrhosis refers to the scarring of healthy liver tissues due to long-term illnesses or injury. The healthy liver cells and tissues are replaced by scar tissues that cannot perform normal physiological functions and lead to health problems. The liver is the heaviest organ in the human body and performs vital functions like detoxification, enzyme, and vitamin synthesis, stores nutrients, and fights various infections.
Causes of Liver cirrhosis
Underlying liver diseases or grave injury to the liver can trigger liver cirrhosis. Some of the common causes are:
- Viral infections: Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C cause chronic liver infections.
- Alcohol abuse: Prolonged alcohol drinking can harm your liver.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver issues: Lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension can cause fatty liver. A healthy routine will keep the blood sugar level in check.
- Inherited diseases: Cystic fibrosis, Wilson's disease, and hemochromatosis affect the liver cells and liver storage functions.
- Autoimmune diseases: Certain diseases can direct the body's immune system to attack the liver cells.
- Cross-reactions: Side effects of certain medications can affect the liver and its detoxification processes.
Signs and Symptoms of Liver cirrhosis
The signs and symptoms can vary in individuals. Some of the common ones are:
- loss of appetite
- body weakness
- fatigue and dizziness
- unexpected weight loss
- swelling in feet and ankles
- a yellowish tint to the skin and eyes
- fluid build-up in the abdomen
- loss of libido
- premature menopause in women
- brownish urine
- intense itching
- severe muscle cramps in the abdomen region
- blood vomiting
Possible Treatment for Liver cirrhosis
The treatment plan depends upon the severity of the condition. Though liver cirrhosis is incurable, the symptoms are treated successfully.
Alcohol anonymous program
Your doctor will strictly suggest you stop consuming alcohol (if applicable) as a part of your treatment.
Vaccinations and medicines
Get timely shots against hepatitis and other chronic infections. If you are prescribed medication, take them on time.
For autoimmune diseases
Steroid drugs can help reduce inflammation and other effects caused due to the immune system attacking your liver cells.
The fluid build-up in the body can be reduced by several diuretics and antibiotic combinations.
The surgical procedure liver transplant is usually the last option in the case of liver failure.
Clear all your doubts regarding the treatment duration, risks, and complications, with the doctor before starting the treatment.
The chances of liver cirrhosis increase in the case of
- Chronic alcoholism: Alcohol addicts have a high risk of liver cirrhosis.
- chronic hepatitis infection: The viral infection affects the hepatocytes and the normal functions of the liver.
- fatty liver condition: Severe lifestyle diseases can be a trigger for liver cirrhosis
- Hereditary: inherited liver problems cannot be cured and can cause liver problems even at a younger age.
Stages of Liver cirrhosis
The treatment for liver cirrhosis depends upon the stage of prognosis. According to the doctor and healthcare experts, you could have
- Compensated liver cirrhosis: You may test positive for liver cirrhosis without noticeable symptoms. In such cases, liver biopsy is the only option to confirm the prognosis of the condition.
- Decompensated liver cirrhosis: Refers to the worsened condition of your liver and all the noticeable symptoms. You may have to get hospitalized to undergo further treatments. It usually indicates that the healthy cells have deteriorated, affecting the liver functioning.
Diagnosis Test for Liver cirrhosis
There are several tests to confirm liver cirrhosis. The doctor will perform a physical test, prescribe blood tests, imaging scans, and biopsy (if required) to determine the prognosis and confirm liver cirrhosis. A blood test with a CT scan or an MRI detects the condition and helps the doctor discuss appropriate treatment.
Primary Prevention of Liver cirrhosis
With preventive measures, we can eliminate the major risks of liver cirrhosis.
- Vaccination: Timely vaccination against hepatitis is crucial to prevent chronic infections of the liver.
- Avoid alcohol: One of the major contributing factors of liver cirrhosis is alcohol. Avoid frequent consumption of alcohol to protect your liver.
Secondary Prevention of Liver cirrhosis
If you are recovering from the initial stages of liver cirrhosis, follow proper instructions from the doctor.
- Diet control: Eat a healthy diet with less salt and more protein content.
- Healthy hygiene: Keep yourself clean and avoid unnecessary infections.
- Healthy living: Do regular exercises and maintain a healthy body weight.
- Timely medication: If your doctor has prescribed medicines, do not stop or start new ones without consultation.
Epidemiology of Liver cirrhosis
Liver cirrhosis typically affects adults, known to be alcohol addicts and suffering from other liver problems. It can affect both males and females. The children and adults are also at greater risk of suffering from liver cirrhosis if they have inherent liver problems, hepatitis infections, or had serious liver injuries. The symptoms should not be neglected and get an immediate medical opinion.
Expected Prognosis of Liver cirrhosis
People with early-stage cirrhosis can manage their condition with medicines. However, without proper treatment, the risk of liver cancer increases along with additional health complications. The condition may also impact other body organs such as the spleen, kidneys, lungs, and blood vessels, causing internal infections.
Natural Progression of Liver cirrhosis
Liver cirrhosis may take 20 to 30 years to develop and is called a slow-acting disease. The natural progression of cirrhosis is based on the overall health of the patient, causes, lifestyle habits, and genetic factors. The initial stages can be asymptomatic. However, as the disease progresses, portal hypertension and liver dysfunctions prevail.
Pathophysiology of Liver cirrhosis
Liver cirrhosis affects the homeostasis of the body. The biochemical changes are detected via blood tests. Increased liver-specific enzymes and bilirubin, decreased blood proteins, possible hepatitis infection, or autoimmune liver diseases confirm liver cirrhosis. The healthy cells degenerate and undergo necrosis. The scarred cells affect the production of blood clotting factors, detoxifying drugs, and toxins. The physical changes appear in the form of symptoms affecting overall health.
Possible Complications of Liver cirrhosis
The blood flow in the portal vein is disturbed due to the scarred cells and tissues. It increases the blood pressure in the major blood vessels causing its rupture and internal bleeding. It can also cause hepatopulmonary syndrome, where the dilation of the blood vessels in the lungs may lead to breathing issues. The damaged liver is unable to detoxify toxins. They may circulate freely in the bloodstream and affect brain functions. Severe progression of cirrhosis can cause liver carcinoma.
Our BLK-Max Medical Experts
If you are facing any similar signs or symptoms please contact the BLK-Max team to schedule an appointment at : +91-11-30403040