Cirrhosis is permanent damage to the liver tissue caused by chronic inflammation. The basic liver tissue is being replaced with afunctional in a form of fibrosis scar tissue and specific formations called regenerative nodules. Hepatitis B and C together with alcoholism present the leading causes of this disease. As liver tissue is reduced and the function of this organ is improper basically the whole body suffers. Still complications of the disease gradually develop and in terminal stage of the disease lead to death unless a patient is transplanted a new liver.
Ascites is both the symptom and the complication of the disease. It presents a collection of fluid within abdominal cavity. This fluid may contain proteins so the whole amount of protein in body decreases and this can lead to additional edema of legs for example.
Patients suffering from cirrhosis are more susceptible to infections than general population. Even minor infections can cause great damage and endanger life.
The liver is often damaged to great extent. This leads to less proper processing of food, vitamins and minerals. All of these results in chronic malnutrition.
In case that bilirubin is not excreted enough from the body it lingers and leads to jaundice. This is another complication of cirrhosis.
The liver is not capable of processing and eliminating the toxic substances from the body. This means that these harmful contaminants linger in body and get to each organ. If they come to brain in the beginning they lead to confusion and lack in concentration. Prolonged exposure to toxins results in hepatic encephalopathy which is one of the most severe complications of the disease.
The pressure within hepatic veins and major vein in the abdomen called vein portae rises. This reflects in increase in pressure within other veins of the body. If the pressure in esophageal vein exceeds certain level patient develops so called esophageal varices. These varices are prone to bleeding especially if pressure keeps on rising. Once the bleeding occurs patient is immediately hospitalized. Due to hypertension in veins even spleen can get enlarged. Increased bruising and bleeding stands in connection with liver impossibility to produce normal levels of proteins that are in charge with coagulation. In these patients even levels of platelets are rather low.
Patients who are suffering from cirrhosis of the liver are at higher risk of developing liver carcinoma. This is why regular check-ups are done to establish potential carcinomas in the very beginning.
Due to improper liver function most medications take longer to be metabolized. This leads to their prolonged stay and even increased concentrations. This has to be taken into consideration in all the patients suffering from cirrhosis in case they need to be given any kind of medications.
In terminal stages the disease leads to kidney and lung failure called hepatorenal and hepatopulmonal syndromes.