The term cirrhosis of the liver refers to the formation of scar tissue that can destroy the makeup of the liver. In the majority of cases, this condition occurs as a result of alcohol abuse. However, there are several other major causes of liver cirrhosis. This condition prevents the proper function of the organ, which can have negative effects on digestion and metabolism. As few as 30% of patients will survive the condition.
Excess alcohol consumption is a primary cause of the disease, accounting for about fifty percent of all cases of liver cirrhosis.
Other causes of the condition can be viral in nature. Hepatitis is one such cause. Hepatitis B and C are commonly seen to be causes of the condition. Autoimmune chronic active hepatitis is a rare condition that causes the immune system to attack the body, thus destroying liver cells.
Primary biliary cirrhosis is a disease whose cause is not entirely understood. The disease, mainly seen in females, causes the body to attack the liver.
Some chemicals and drugs can cause liver damage. However, it is relatively rare to see cirrhosis of the liver occurring as a result of contact with these substances. Some congenital disorders can lead to the build up of toxins within the liver, the most common of which is haemochromatosis.
The early stages of the condition might be asymptomatic, but as the disease progresses, one might begin to experience weakness, energy loss, tiredness, lack of appetite, nausea and weight loss. The later stages will see the development of jaundice, nail changes, skin changes, fluid retention, spider veins, tendency to bruise easily and, in some cases, the development of male breasts. Some symptoms of the very late stages of the disease include vomiting blood, stomach ulcers. These symptoms indicate a need for immediate medical attention.Treatment
Treatment will depend on the cause. If hepatitis is the cause, then the approach will revolve around combating that particular condition. The same applies to all the other medical conditions that cause liver cirrhosis.
If the cause lies in alcohol excess, you must cut down intake of alcohol as soon as possible. Even small amounts can damage the liver after damage has occurred. It will also be necessary to make some positive lifestyle changes. If possible, lead as active a life as you can. Tiredness may prevent this, but try to persevere.
Look to maintain as healthy a diet as is possible. Don’t add salt to your meals, and if necessary employ the usage of vitamin and mineral supplements.
Treatment for cirrhosis of the liver will variously involve the use of diuretics, vitamin and mineral supplements, laxatives or propranol. In severe or life threatening cases, liver transplant.