Cirrhosis is a medical condition caused by long-term damage to the liver. It is characterised by the abnormal structure and function of the liver. The damage caused leads to the formation of scar tissue and the smooth liver tissue becomes harder. Build up of scar tissue can interfere with blood flow to the liver cells, this leads to the loss of function and eventually liver failure. However, it usually takes a very long time to reach this stage and treatment and intervention can help prevent this.
Several of the most common causes of cirrhosis include:
- Regularly consuming excessive amounts of alcohol over a long duration of time
- Clinically obese people who have a fatty liver.
- Being infected with long-term liver infections such as Hepatitis B or Hepatits C
The earliest symptoms occur when scar tissue formation first begins these can include :
- Tenderness or pain in the area of the liver
- General feeling tired and unwell
- Feeling sick and vomiting
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
As the build-up of liver disease continues, the following symptoms may occur:
- Vomiting blood
- Hair loss
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Intensely itchy skin
- very rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
There's currently no cure for cirrhosis. But it's possible to manage the symptoms and slow its progression. Using anti-viral medication to treat a hepatitis C infection can stop cirrhosis getting worse. If your liver is severely scarred, it can stop functioning. In this case, a liver transplant is the only treatment option.
- ↑ Cirrhosis [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 5 December 2017]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cirrhosis/
- ↑ Cirrhosis of the liver - British Liver Trust [Internet]. British Liver Trust. 2017 [cited 5 December 2017]. Available from: https://www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/liver-information/liver-conditions/cirrhosis/