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BRAIN ATTACK:

Understanding Liver Cirrhosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

By Prof (Dr.) Subhash Gupta in Liver Transplant and Biliary Sciences

Jul 20 , 2021 | 2 min read

Liver cirrhosis is a serious condition that can develop over a long period of time due to a variety of factors. The liver, being one of the most vital organs in the human body, plays an important role in maintaining overall health.

However, when the liver becomes damaged, the body can experience a range of symptoms, from fatigue to jaundice and, eventually, liver cancer. In this blog post, let's explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for liver cirrhosis.

Causes of Liver Cirrhosis

Many factors can contribute to the development of liver cirrhosis, but some of the most common causes are:

  • Alcohol consumption: Excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, scarring, and, eventually, cirrhosis.

  • Fatty liver disease: It is a buildup of fat in the liver over time which can cause inflammation and scarring, leading to cirrhosis.

  • Chronic viral hepatitis B and hepatitis C: These viral infections can cause chronic inflammation in the liver, leading to cirrhosis.

  • Autoimmune hepatitis: This rare autoimmune disorder can cause the body to attack the liver, leading to cirrhosis.

  • Biliary atresia: A rare condition in which the bile ducts are blocked or absent, leading to liver damage and cirrhosis.

Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis

The symptoms of liver cirrhosis vary depending on the severity of the condition. In the early stages, symptoms may be mild or non-existent, but as the disease progresses, the following symptoms may occur:

Fatigue

  • Hyperpigmentation

  • Elevated liver enzymes

  • Jaundice (yellow colour of eyes)

  • Loss of appetite/aversion to food

  • Feeling of weakness and lethargy

  • Abnormal bleeding occurring after minor trauma

  • Swelling in the legs

  • Ascites (accumulation of water in the abdomen)

  • Bleeding from intestine

  • Altered mental status

Treatment of Liver Cirrhosis

The treatment of liver cirrhosis depends on the underlying cause of the condition. For example, if the condition is caused by alcohol consumption, the first step in treatment is to stop drinking alcohol. If the condition is caused by viral hepatitis, antiviral medications may be prescribed. In addition, lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet and exercise can help manage the symptoms.

In some cases, however, liver transplantation may be the only option. Liver transplantation involves removing the diseased liver and replacing it with a healthy liver from a donor. This is typically done when the liver has been severely damaged and is no longer functioning properly. While this can be a lifesaving procedure, there are risks involved, and the recovery process can be lengthy.

Liver cirrhosis is a serious medical condition; if you suspect that you may be at risk for liver disease, it is important to speak with your doctor to discuss your options and develop a plan for managing your condition.