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Liver Disorders Treatment > Cirrhosis Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Information

Detailed Information guidance for Causes of Cirrhosis, Signs & Symptoms of Cirrhosis, Cirrhosis Treatment Methods & Prognosis of Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is an irreversible scarring of the liver, occurring in the late stages of various liver disorders. In Cirrhosis, normal liver tissue is destroyed and replaced by fibrous scar tissue. The condition may be caused by several different disorders, including viral infections and excessive alcohol consumption. The liver damage is irreversible and prevents the liver from functioning properly. Some people with Cirrhosis may feel well for years despite having severe liver damage. However, with time they may develop complications, such as liver failure and liver cancer.

Causes of Cirrhosis

There are various causes of Cirrhosis. Worldwide, the most common cause is infection with a hepatitis virus, particularly the hepatitis B and C viruses. However, in developed countries Cirrhosis is most frequently caused by excessive alcohol consumption (alcohol-related liver disease). Another cause, which is more common in women than in men, is the autoimmune disorder primary biliary cirrhosis. Bile, a liquid produced by the liver to aid digestion, normally leaves the liver through the bile ducts. In primary biliary cirrhosis, the bile ducts become inflamed, blocking the flow of bile from the liver.


This causes the bile to build up, damaging the liver tissue. Cirrhosis may also be caused by sclerosing cholangitis, a condition in which the bile ducts inside the liver become inflamed. The cause of this condition is not known, although it can be associated with some inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Cirrhosis may also develop after bile duct surgery or as a result of a blockage of the bile ducts by gallstones. In addition, certain inherited disorders, such as hemochromatosis, may cause Cirrhosis to develop.


In developed countries, Cirrhosis is the common cause of death in people aged 45-65, after coronary artery disease and cancer. In the U.S, Cirrhosis is more common in men than in women and accounts for many thousands of deaths each year.


Signs & Symptoms of Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis often produces no symptoms and is only detected during a routine examination for another condition. If there are symptoms, they may include:

  • Poor appetite and weight loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (Jaundice).


In the long term, life-threatening complications may arise. For eg, Cirrhosis can lead to high blood pressure in veins in the esophagus, which causes then to be fragile and to bleed easily (Portal Hypertension and Varices). Malnutrition may also develop from being unable to absorb fats and certain vitamins. Eventually, Cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer or liver failure. The symptoms of liver failure include a swollen, fluid-filled abdomen and visible spiderlike blood vessels in the skin, known as spider nevi. A failing liver may also result in abnormal bleeding and easy bruising. This is as a result of reduced production of blood clotting factors in the liver.


Cirrhosis Treatment Methods

If your doctor suspects that you have Cirrhosis from your symptoms, he or she will take blood samples to assess liver function and look for hepatitis viruses. You may also have ultrasound scanning, CT scanning, or MRI to assess the liver. To confirm the diagnosis, you may have a liver biopsy, in which a small sample of tissue is removed from your liver for microscopic examination.


Damage to the liver caused by Cirrhosis is always irreversible. However, if underlying cause can be treated, further deterioration may be prevented. Whatever the cause of the Cirrhosis, you should not drink alcohol. Nutritional deficiencies can be corrected by taking supplements and altering your diet. If the condition worsens but you are otherwise in good health, you may be suitable for a liver transplant.


Prognosis of Cirrhosis

The prognosis for Cirrhosis is extremely variable and depends on the degree of liver damage, whether complications have developed, and whether further damage can be prevented. If the condition is mild, people may live for many years. About 7 in 10 people survive for more than a year after a liver transplant. 

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