Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious and progressive disease that occurs when healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue. This scarring can impede the liver’s ability to function properly, leading to various symptoms and complications. Cirrhosis of the liver is most often caused by long-term alcohol abuse. Still, it can also be caused by other conditions, such as viral hepatitis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It’s important to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver, as early detection and treatment can improve outcomes. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for cirrhosis of the liver to help you better understand this serious condition.
Liver fibrosis and damage over time lead to a disease known as cirrhosis, where the liver can’t function correctly because scar tissue has replaced good tissue. Blood flow through the liver is also impaired by scar tissue. Liver failure sets in when cirrhosis progresses.
Because cirrhosis often does not cause noticeable symptoms until the liver is severely damaged, many people are unaware that they have the disease.
According to the latest studies, cirrhosis affects around 1 in 400 persons in the United States. Most cases of cirrhosis occur in individuals aged 45 to 54. Cirrhosis also affects around 1 in 200 American adults 45–54 years old. Since many persons with cirrhosis go undiagnosed, experts believe the true numbers may be significantly higher.
Regardless of how severe a person’s drinking can seem on the surface, alcoholism is a serious disease that can have both short and long-term consequences in all areas of a person’s life. Contact us today, 24/7, at 855-281-5588.
What is Cirrhosis of The Liver?
Long-term liver damage leads to liver scarring (fibrosis), a condition known as cirrhosis. The liver’s ability to function normally becomes compromised due to the presence of scar tissue.
This is because cirrhosis is the last stage of liver damage caused by diseases like hepatitis. Even with cirrhosis, your liver can continue functioning. However, cirrhosis can result in liver failure and catastrophic consequences that provide a significant risk of death.
What are the Symptoms of Cirrhosis?
Some of the first liver cirrhosis symptoms include:
- Experiencing fatigue or weakness and loss of appetite.
- Quick weight loss.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Discomfort or soreness on the right side of the upper abdomen.
What are the Complications of Cirrhosis of the Liver?
- Bleeding and bruising easily, mental fog, amnesia, memory loss, personality changes, and sleep disorders
- Edema; swelling of the lower extremities that can affect the legs, ankles, and feet.
- Ascites, or abdominal swelling caused by fluid retention.
- Jaundice is characterized by severe itching skin, a deepening of urine color, and yellowing of the whites of your eyes and skin.
What Causes Cirrhosis of the Liver?
The root causes of cirrhosis vary. Multiple factors contribute to liver deterioration in some patients with cirrhosis.
The most common causes of cirrhosis are:
- Chronic hepatitis B
- Chronic hepatitis C
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Alcoholic liver disease—damage to the liver and its function due to alcohol abuse
Some of the less common causes of cirrhosis include
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Primary biliary cholangitis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Long-term use of certain medicines
- Inherited liver diseases such as Wilson disease, hemochromatosis, and alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
- Chronic heart failure with liver congestion.4
Can Cirrhosis of The Liver be Cured?
A diagnosis of the underlying cause of cirrhosis is essential to effective therapy. While a cure for cirrhosis is unlikely, the disease can be controlled with methods like an alcohol detox, and its symptoms mitigated.
How is Cirrhosis of the Liver Treated?
The severity of the cirrhosis and the underlying cause will determine the best course of treatment. There is currently no known cure for cirrhosis; however, medications can halt or slow the disease’s progression and lessen its associated problems.
The following are possible liver cirrhosis treatments for the underlying conditions that lead to cirrhosis:
- If you have cirrhosis of the liver from alcohol abuse, your healthcare practitioner can help you build an effective plan on how to stop drinking.
- Several antiviral medicines are currently available for the treatment of hepatitis B and C.
- Weight loss, a good diet, regular exercise, and following your healthcare provider’s advice for controlling your diabetes are all part of the treatment plan for non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease.
- Liver illnesses that run in families have varying degrees of severity and symptoms, making it difficult to generalize a treatment protocol. Symptom relief and complication prevention are the primary goals of treatment.
- Medication to treat problems of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may include anti-inflammatory drugs to address swelling in the belly and legs, antibiotics to treat infections, and other medications.
- Hemochromatosis is treated by having blood drawn to lower the patient’s iron levels.
- Medicines that flush copper out of the body and zinc that blocks copper absorption are used to treat Wilson’s disease.
- Medication is administered for cystic fibrosis to enhance lung function, remove mucus, and manage consequences.
- Liver glycogen storage illnesses are treated by maintaining a steady blood sugar level.
- Medication that dampens the immune system is often used to treat autoimmune hepatitis.
- Liver bile duct disease treatment options include ursodiol (Actigall®) and other medicines, as well as a surgical intervention to repair or replace damaged bile ducts.
- Treatment options for heart failure vary according to the patient’s underlying condition and severity.
- Medication can be used to address a variety of health issues, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, edema (a buildup of fluid in the tissues), and poor heart pumping performance.
- Surgical procedures to unblock arteries, replace or repair heart valves, and heart transplant surgery is some of the other therapies available.
Possible Medications Contributing to Cirrhosis: If your doctor suspects that one of your drugs is causing liver damage, he or she will examine the full list to see if there is a safer alternative.
Is a liver transplant the only option for someone with end-stage cirrhosis?
Most cirrhosis symptoms like itching and stomach discomfort can be managed with medication. When issues arise that can’t be managed with medication, a liver transplant may be required.
How can I prevent Cirrhosis of The Liver?
Here are some recommended steps to prevent liver cirrhosis:
- Reduce or completely avoid alcohol.
- Have a healthy, low-fat diet, and stay away from raw shellfish like oysters and clams.
- Decrease the quantity of salt you consume daily.
- Take care to stay at a healthy weight.
- Incorporate frequent physical activity into your routine.
- Check-in with your doctor frequently for checkups.
- If smoking is a habit you want to break, stop now.
- Do not engage in risky activities that might expose you to hepatitis B or C, such as sharing needles for illicit drug use or engaging in unprotected sex.
- Get the hepatitis B vaccine.
- Talk to your doctor about getting drug therapy if you have hepatitis.
- Don’t forget to get your yearly flu vaccination, and if you’re at risk for pneumonia, inquire about being vaccinated against that, too (people with cirrhosis are more likely to get infections).
- Avoid aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Daily dosing with up to 2,000 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen is considered safe. The liver may get damaged or weakened as a result of taking certain medications.
- You should adhere to your doctor’s orders and take all prescribed drugs.
Can a Person with Cirrhosis Drink Alcohol?
After excessive alcohol use, scar tissue accumulates in the liver as it strives to mend itself from alcohol poisoning. Scarring inside the liver can cause the liver function to deteriorate over time. It is impossible to reverse the effects of cirrhosis on the liver. Alcohol use of any kind is harmful to the liver and should be avoided.
Rehab for Alcohol Use Disorder at AspenRidge Recovery Center
Addiction treatment plans should be tailored to each patient to be most effective. When treated, alcohol use disorder often shows considerable improvement. According to studies, around one-third of those who seek treatment for an alcohol problem report no symptoms a year later, while many others report much-reduced drinking and fewer alcohol-related diseases.
If you have been questioning your or a loved one’s drinking behaviors, you are encouraged to explore the AspenRidge website. Several resources are available including personal assessments to help guide you in your decision towards recovery. Admissions staff are available to answer questions. AspenRidge is a top-rated treatment facility in the state of Colorado with multiple locations. They offer outpatient services, in-patient treatment options, partial hospitalization options, and extended recovery monitoring.
Contact AspenRidge at 855-281-5588 today. Recovery from drugs and alcohol can be confusing and overwhelming. AspenRidge can help provide clarity as you work toward long-term sobriety.