Cirrhosis of the liver is a condition that causes scarring of the liver. The liver is a big organ situated in the upper part of the abdomen. It performs a number of important functions such as purifying the blood, detoxification of toxic substances and producing essential nutrients.
Cirrhosis of the liver is caused due to persistent damage of the liver. Mild cases of cirrhosis of the liver can cure on its own. However, sever cases of the conditions results in increased formation of scars tissue in the liver, eventually causing severe impairments in its functionality.
Cirrhosis of the liver is caused by liver damage that can result from different types of diseases and conditions.
Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver
Most of the signs and symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver are not noticeable in the initial stages, but can be experienced only after substantial damage of the liver. Some of the symptoms are as follows:
- Loss of weight
- Bruising easily
- Easy bleeding
- Collection of fluid in the abdomen
- Appetite loss
- Swelling experienced in the legs
Some of the complications that may result from cirrhosis of the liver are listed below:
- The body finds it problematic to fight infections and thus the frequency of infections increase
- The liver loses its ability to clear the blood of the toxins which can result in concentration difficulties and confusion, eventually leading to coma or unresponsiveness
- The damaged liver is unable to process the nutrients in the body leading to malnutrition, loss of weight and weakness
- Cirrhosis of the liver can hamper the free flow of blood to the liver leading to increased pressure on the portal vein, which then passes on the workload to smaller capillaries located near the liver. The tiny veins are usually unable to handle the additional pressure to supply blood, causing them to rupture and bleed. Increased pressure can also result in esophageal varices, which is a life-threatening disorder.
- Cirrhosis of the liver increases the vulnerability to developing liver cancer
Causes of cirrhosis of the liver
Repetitive damage of the liver over a period of several years can lead to the development of scar tissue in the liver, resulting in cirrhosis of the liver
The liver tries to repair the injuries that are inflicted on it. Such repair activity causes the formation of scar tissue in the liver. Increased number of scar tissue in the liver, affects the functionality of the liver, ultimately leading to an advanced case of cirrhosis of the liver, wherein the liver stops working altogether. The liver is an organ that is vital for survival and hence a damaged liver needs to be replaced via a liver transplant.
Some of the possible causes of liver damage are mentioned below:
- Prolonged alcohol abuse
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis B
- Cystic fibrosis
- Accumulation of fat in the liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Primary biliary cirrhosis or bile ducts destruction
- Accumulation of excess copper in the liver or Wilson’s disease
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis or scarring or hardening of the bile ducts
- Accumulation of iron in the body or hemochromatosis
- Galactosemia or incapability to process sugars present in milk
- Autoimmune hepatitis or liver disease caused by the immune system of the body
- Poorly developed bile ducts or biliary atresia
- Glycogen storage disease or problems in releasing and storing the energy needed by cells to effectively function
Treatment of cirrhosis of the liver
The early stages of cirrhosis of the liver may be treated by rectifying the underlying cause such as:
- Medications to treat hepatitis C or B and thus limit the damage to the liver
- Reducing the intake of alcohol. Alcoholism can be treated via a rehab program
- Hypertension medications can be taken to relive the pressure on the veins. Stenting and other surgical procedures may be used to open the portal vein
- Increased toxicity of the blood can be treated via medications
- Infections can be treated with antibiotics and other drugs
- A non functioning liver needs to be replaced via a liver transplant
Cirrhosis of the liver life expectancy
The Child-Pugh score is used to determine the prognosis of any liver disease, including cirrhosis of the liver.
The Child-Pugh score employs 5 clinical measures to determine the progress of liver diseases. Each of them are scored on a scale of one to three, wherein 1 refer to mild cases while 3 refers to serious imbalance. Once the score is calculated for each of the five measures, they are categorized into three classes as given below:
|Points||Class||One year survival||Two year survival|
As per the table, individuals with cirrhosis of the liver who fall under Class A have an 85 percent chance of survival for a 2 year period, while patients falling under Class C are at high risk for fatalities and hence only have a 35 percent survival chance 2 years after diagnosis of the condition. Hence, sever cases of cirrhosis of the liver have a life expectancy of around 34 to 66 percent for 10 years.
Cirrhosis of the liver pictures