What is cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is a progressive process causing fibrosis and hardening of the liver. Complications of cirrhosis can result in bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, ascites (accumulation of water in the abdominal space).
What causes cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis develops from chronic damage to the liver. Continuous damage from Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, alcohol, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (the progressive variant of fatty liver disease), can all lead to cirrhosis.
What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?
Some patients with early cirrhosis may have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include: Swelling in the abdomen (ascites), bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract (especially oesophagal varices – abnormal blood vessels in the food pipe connecting the mouth to the stomach), confusion and/or drowsiness progressing to coma, yellowing of the skin/eyes (jaundice)
Cirrhosis also weakens your immune system, making it easier for you to get infections.
Patients with cirrhosis are also more likely to have cancer of the liver (hepatocellular carcinoma).
Is there a test for cirrhosis?
Yes. Usually, a diagnosis of cirrhosis is made based on clinical findings, blood tests and imaging findings. In cases of doubt, a liver biopsy may be helpful to confirm cirrhosis and may be helpful to find out the cause of the cirrhosis. Typical tests that are ordered in the investigation of cirrhosis include:
Is there anything I can do to prevent further liver damage?
Yes. To help protect your liver:
How is cirrhosis treated?
Treatments depend on the cause of cirrhosis, how severe it is, and what symptoms you have. Treatments fall into a few main categories, including those that:
Will I need a new liver?
People with severe complications of cirrhosis may need a new liver (a liver transplant). You will need to be assessed by a team of doctors before ascertaining this is indicated and suitable for you.
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