Causes And Treatment Of Cirrhosis Of Liver
Cirrhosis of the liver is an increasingly common medical condition. It is one about which there is considerable misconception. Knowing what is liver cirrhosis is the first step in controlling the condition. Each time the liver is injured or damaged, either by diseases, excessive alcohol consumption, lifestyle choices or physical injury, it tries to repair itself. In this process, scar tissue forms. This is cirrhosis of the liver. If the liver suffers excessive or continuous damage, the increasing scar tissue makes it difficult for the liver to function and this is known as decompensated cirrhosis. When the reduction of the liver function reaches an advanced stage, the condition is life threatening. The damage done to the liver cannot, in most cases, be rectified. However, if the condition is diagnosed early and treatment begun, then further damage and decrease in liver function can be restricted.
Liver cirrhosis Causes
There are many diseases and medical conditions that can cause cirrhosis. These include:
- Excessive/chronic alcohol abuse
- Addiction to recreational drugs
- Chronic viral hepatitis A, B and C
- Fat accumulation in the liver
- Copper accumulation in the liver
- Iron buildup in the liver
- Inherited/genetic medical conditions
- Cystic fibrosis
- Diseases such as syphilis, brucellosis, etc.
- Reaction to medications
Symptoms Of Liver Cirrhosis
Liver cirrhosis often does not exhibit symptoms until the damage has become extensive. Whenever the symptoms do manifest themselves, they include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Excessive bleeding or bruising from even minor injuries
- Itchiness of the skin
- Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
- Redness in the palms of the hands
- Tiny blood vessels appearing under the skin surface
- Slurred speech, drowsiness and mental confusion
- For men, a loss of sex drive, testicular atrophy or enlargement of the breast may occur
- For women irregular or missing menstrual periods not related to menopause
Also Read: What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Liver Disease Diagnosis
When cirrhosis of the liver is suspected, the diagnostic process begins with obtaining the person’s medical and medication (both prescription and over-the counter) use history. Family medical history may also be sought to ascertain if any genetic or hereditary conditions are contributing to the development of cirrhosis. The presence of any of the above mentioned symptoms will contribute to a liver cirrhosis diagnosis. In additions the doctor will:
- Conduct physical tests to confirm the presence of any of the above symptoms.
- Order blood teststo see if any of the following signs of liver damage are present:
- Low levels of blood clotting factors and albumin
- High levels of iron
- Raised levels of bilirubin
- High levels of liver enzymes
- Autoantibodies which may indicate autoimmune problems
- High white blood cell count
- Low sodium levels
- High creatinine levels
- High levels of alpha-fetoprotein which may indicate liver cancer
- Order imaging tests to view the size and shape of the liver as well as the extent of scarring present and the amount of fat accumulation. Fluid accumulation in the abdomen will also show up. The imaging tests may include CT (computerized tomography), ultrasound and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging. Endoscopy may also be orders to detect bile duct problems. Enlarged veins or bleeding in the intestines, stomach or esophagus.
- A biopsy may be ordered to obtain a liver tissue sample to pathological examination to ascertain the extent of the liver damage/scarring that has occurred and to what extent it has progressed.
Liver Disease Treatment
There is no single answer to the question “what is the best treatment for liver cirrhosis?” There is no cure for liver cirrhosis, and the treatment prescribed will depend on the cause and extent of the condition. The goal of liver cirrhosis treatment is to prevent further liver scarring and to avoid other medical conditions that may arise from the cirrhosis. In the early stages of liver cirrhosis treatment typically focuses on the underlying cause which includes:
- Treatment of alcohol dependency
- Drug addiction treatment
- Weight loss to counter obesity
- Medication to control hepatitis and other contributory diseases
- Various medications that may slow the progression of the cirrhosis and to reduce the impact of the symptoms.
If the cirrhosis is causing other medical problems treatment to resolves those issues may be advised. These include:
- A special diet and medication to control the buildup of excessive fluid in the body
- Medication to control bleeding in the liver
- Vaccinations against various infections
- Medications to reduce the buildup of toxin caused by reduced liver function
- Regular tests to detect the presence of liver cancer
Also Read: Acid Reflux Should Not Be Ignored
Liver Transplant Surgery
If the liver is so badly damaged that it is unable to function, a liver transplant may be the only treatment option. Before a liver transplant is considered, the following actors are evaluated:
- Will the patient be able to withstand the stress of transplant surgery?
- Is the patient mental ready for the procedure?
- If alcoholism is the cause of the liver cirrhosis, will the patient return to this addiction after the transplant? This is one of the main reasons why patients with alcohol related cirrhosis are often no considered as being suitable for transplant surgery.
- The availability of a suitable liver for transplantation. This could be either from a deceased donor or part of a liver from a matching donor. Since the liver is able to regenerate itself, the transplanted part liver will grow into a full one and the donor’s remaining liver will also regenerate itself.
If you or someone you know, is suspected of suffering from cirrhosis of the liver or has been diagnosed with the condition, it is vital to confirm the diagnosis without delay and if cirrhosis is present, begin treatment. Liver cirrhosis is a very serious condition but with diagnosis and treatment at a multispecialty hospital with the best medical specialists, treatment and surgical facilities and medical technologies, patients need not despair. Whether the condition can be control by medication and lifestyle changes or if transplant surgery is the best option, patients may have many years of happy and productive life ahead of them.
- Jan 13, 2023