Cirrhosis is a Dangerous Medical Condition

Cirrhosis is a severe malfunctioning of the liver as a result of gradual damage. Many people who are diagnosed are alcoholics have drank heavily for years or decades. Others are people who have hepatitis B or C or fatty liver disease. While healthy liver tissue is dark and smooth, a liver with cirrhosis is rough and covered with discolored lesions. At first, there are no symptoms, but after a few years, the symptoms of fatigue, swelling, weakness and spider veins will appear. Most liver damage cannot be reversed, but the disease can be prevented from worsening. If left untreated, cirrhosis will worsen and lead to the complete malfunction of the liver. When this happens, a liver transplant is needed. The following information reveals more about the causes and effects of cirrhosis.

Causes of Cirrhosis

When most people think of cirrhosis, they think of alcoholism and think that the over-consumption of alcohol is the main cause. In reality, hepatitis B or C makes up for more than half of all cases. A chronic infection causes a severe inflammation of the liver and damage that worsens over time. In some people, cirrhosis takes decades to develop. Alcoholic liver disease occurs in alcoholics who consume large amounts of alcohol daily for years. The toxicity causes inflammation, fibrosis and cell deaths in the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the result of fat buildup in the liver. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is one form of this disease. Without the inclusion of alcohol, a few causes of fatty liver disease are diabetes, obesity and poor nutrition.

Symptoms of Cirrhosis

When this condition develops, normal liver tissue is replaced by scars. However, none of this damage can be seen without special medical tools. In the beginning stages of cirrhosis, few or no symptoms appear. After several years or decades, the symptoms of fatigue, weakness, swelling and weight loss appear. The number of years until the symptoms appear varies with each individual. Cirrhosis may cause a buildup of abdominal fluid known as ascites. The abdomen becomes bloated and increases one's body weight. The condition also causes fatigue and discomfort. Spider veins may appear on the stomach, arms or other areas as a result of swelling. Some people develop jaundice that causes the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow. Gynecomastia and hypogonadism are common conditions in male patients.

Treatment of Cirrhosis

Prevention is the first step for treating cirrhosis. Abstaining from alcohol and certain drugs is recommended along with reducing weight gain and controlling the symptoms of underlying diseases like diabetes. A lack of prevention or treatment will lead to further loss of liver function and the need for a transplant. Although the survival rates for liver transplants are high, it is the last option when the liver stops functioning altogether. Since most liver damage is irreversible, patients have to treat the causes of the disease, such as diabetes and obesity, by losing weight or controlling blood sugar levels. People with hepatitis can take medications to treat the viruses. People with ascites can undergo surgery to remove the fluid buildup. Other medications are designed to relieve pain, swelling or fatigue.

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