The liver is an important organ in the right upper abdomen just below your ribs that filters the blood toxins, makes the digestive enzymes, stores nutrients and sugars and helps fight off infections. If the liver is hurt, it usually regenerates under tough scar tissue. Cirrhosis of the liver means irreversible scarring of the liver tissues. It happens over time and can be due to alcohol addiction and infections. Early diagnosis is imperative to keep further deterioration and complications at bay.
Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, coronary artery disease etc., are indicators, and tattooed persons, gay men, people born between1945-65, people visiting Asia, South Africa etc., have reported higher incidences of Hepatitis and Cirrhosis.
Liver Cirrhosis Causes
Cirrhosis is scarring and result of liver diseases caused by
● Abuse of alcohol (Alcoholic liver cirrhosis)
● Hepatitis B and C
● NAFLD or Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in the obese.
● High blood sugar levels
● Iron buildup
● Cystic Fibrosis
● Wilson’s disease or Copper build-up in the liver
● Autoimmune diseases like HIV, COVID etc. that attack the liver cells
● Brucellosis and Syphilis
● Genetic digestive diseases.
● Bile duct blockage
● Adverse medication reactions
If you are diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, it is vital to find the underlying causes of the disease and treat it immediately. Depending on how badly damaged the liver’s working is, the type of cirrhosis is called:
● Compensated: You may have no symptoms, and your liver is compensating for the scar tissue. This stage lasts several years.
● Decompensated/ Decompensation means your liver has too much scar tissue, and the liver can no longer compensate. Hence symptoms start to get noticed, and you may have complications like:
○ Jaundice: This is caused when the blood waste called bilirubin is not got rid of in the liver. Typically the skin and eyes start turning yellow.
○ Ascites: This is fluid retention in the abdomen and belly area.
○ Bleeding varices show up as tarry, bloody or black stools, vomiting blood, etc. (This is a medical emergency needing immediate treatment).
○ Hepatorenal syndrome a kidney disease
○ Hepatupulmonary syndrome a lung disease
○ Liver cancer
Symptoms and Signs
Liver Cirrhosis symptoms may be hard to detect and show no signs initially. When the scarring and liver damage occurs, though, you may have symptoms like :
● Weakness and fatigue.
● Weight loss without trying.
● Lack of appetite.
● Bruising /bleeding easily.
● Swelling in abdomen (Ascites) and legs.
● Eyes and skin yellowing (jaundice).
● Severe itching.
● Nose bleeds, hair loss, clubbing of fingers.
● White nails, spider veins showing below the skin and redness of palms.
● Personality changes.
● Loss of memory or concentration issues.
● Stopping of periods.
● Lack of sex drive.
● Lack of sex drive.
● Shrinking of testicles.
● Breasts development (Gynecomastia).
Other common cirrhosis of the liver symptoms noticed are
● Vomiting blood
● Muscle cramps
● Enlarged spleen and abdomen
● Yellowish-brown urine
● Bone diseases causing brittleness and fractures
Note: Midas Hospitals recommends that as the liver cirrhosis symptoms are many, the only reliable way to address it is through a proper diagnosis, followed by treatment recommended by a team of gastroenterologists and physicians.
How is Cirrhosis Diagnosed?
Liver Cirrhosis treatment includes
Physical Exam: The doctor generally will check symptoms, alcohol consumption, medical history and medications taken. The physical examination of your belly may involve checking for pain, swelling and tenderness by applying hand pressure on the belly region.
Blood tests for cirrhosis include determining how much of the protein and amino acid tested for are present in the blood and should generally be low. The doctor may order:
● ALT- Alanine transaminase and AST- Aspartate transaminase tests
● Albumin test
● Bilirubin levels
● Creatinine level
● Prothrombin or clotting time
● Sodium levels
● Anaemia, RBC, blood picture and haemoglobin levels.
● Faecal occult blood test to detect bleeding in the stools.
● Liver biopsy
● Upper GI endoscopy
● MRI or CT scans
Medications, Treatment, Home Care and Surgery
Your treatment, medications and care depend on the liver injury and underlying causes. To protect the healthy liver cells as no liver cirrhosis cure is present, what you can do is:
● Stop smoking/drinking right away.
● Obese people should lose weight.
● If it is Hepatitis C or B, take the medications.
● Strictly follow instructions and appointments with the doctor.
● Eat sufficient proteins.
● Get shots for Hepatitis A/B, pneumonia and flu.
● Practice good hand hygiene and sanitation.
● Ascites patients should not take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.
● Drink sufficient fluids to prevent dehydration.
● Use a high-calorie, high-protein diet with a healthy lifestyle.
● Take diuretic and low-salt diets to help with ascites.
● Speak to your doctor for medications for constipation.
Surgery is the last resort and used only when the cirrhosis is in the final stages and needs an immediate liver transplant since less than one-third of the liver is functioning or not functioning at all.
If you observe any of this large number of symptoms, Midas Hospitals suggests you consult a doctor. If you have the below-mentioned symptoms seek medical attention urgently:
● Blood in the vomit (Hematemesis).
● Jaundice symptoms of yellow eyes and skin.
● Bloody stools or brownish urine.
● Severe constipation and impaired bowel movements.
● Confusion, tiredness and daytime sleeping.
Note: These conditions are serious, and if you notice them in your child Midas Hospitals recommends that you consult a doctor right away.
If you have any or all of the symptoms mentioned, approach the doctors in Midas Hospitals for cirrhosis evaluation and treatment. Stick to the cessation of smoking and liquor to prevent further inflammation and never self-medicate.
How long do cirrhosis-diagnosed people live?
In advanced stages of liver cirrhosis, the life expectancy is six months – 2 yrs depending on the cirrhosis complications and when no liver transplantation takes place. Alcoholic and liver cirrhosis patients have a high mortality rate of 50%.
How severe is cirrhosis pain?
Liver diseases cause a dull throbbing/ stabbing pain just below your ribs and in the right upper abdomen. Cirrhosis also causes fluid retention and spleen/ liver enlargement that cause significant discomfort and pain.
What is the best treatment for cirrhosis?
While in the initial stages, advancement of cirrhosis can be slowed by a healthy diet, adequate rest and exercise, and cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption, the advanced stages need a liver transplant.
Are bananas good for cirrhosis of the liver?
NAFLD- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease shows low Potassium levels. Foods rich in Potassium may help and can be found in fishes like sardines, salmon, cod etc., bananas, apricots, kiwi, peas, broccoli and sweet potatoes.
Is alcoholic cirrhosis and NAFLD the same?
Liver cirrhosis is when the liver scarring happens and maybe NAFLD or alcoholic cirrhosis. The causes are different. However, once cirrhosis occurs, it proceeds similarly.