Cirrhosis
(Cirrhosis of the Liver)

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Cirrhosis facts

  • Cirrhosis is a complication of liver disease which involves loss of liver cells and irreversible scarring of the liver.
  • Alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C are common causes of cirrhosis, although there are many other causes.
  • Cirrhosis can cause weakness, loss of appetite, easy bruising, yellowing of the skin (jaundice), itching, and fatigue.
  • Diagnosis of cirrhosis can be suggested by history, physical examination and blood tests, and can be confirmed by liver biopsy.
  • Complications of cirrhosis include edema and ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, bleeding from varices, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatorenal syndrome, hepatopulmonary syndrome, hypersplenism, and liver cancerr.
  • Treatment of cirrhosis is designed to prevent further damage to the liver, treat complications of cirrhosis, and preventing or detecting liver cancer early.
  • Transplantation of the liver is becoming an important option for treating patients with advanced cirrhosis.

What is cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is a complication of many liver diseases characterized by abnormal structure and function of the liver. The diseases that lead to cirrhosis do so because they injure and kill liver cells, after which the inflammation and repair that is associated with the dying liver cells causes scar tissue to form. The liver cells that do not die multiply in an attempt to replace the cells that have died. This results in clusters of newly-formed liver cells (regenerative nodules) within the scar tissue. There are many causes of cirrhosis including chemicals (such as alcohol, fat, and certain medications), viruses, toxic metals (such as iron and copper that accumulate in the liver as a result of genetic diseases), and autoimmune liver disease in which the body's immune system attacks the liver.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/5/2014

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Cirrhosis of The Liver - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Cirrhosis of The Liver - Treatments Question: What treatments did you receive for cirrhosis of the liver?
Cirrhosis of The Liver - Causes Question: What was the cause of your case of cirrhosis of the liver?
Cirrhosis Of The Liver - Diagnosis Question: How was your case of cirrhosis diagnosed?
Cirrhosis of The Liver - Experience Question: Please describe your experience, or the experience of someone you know with cirrhosis of the liver.

Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver

Individuals with cirrhosis may have few or no symptoms and signs of liver disease. Some of the symptoms may be nonspecific, that is, they don't suggest that the liver is their cause. Some of the more common symptoms and signs of cirrhosis include:

  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice) due to the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching
  • Easy bruising from decreased production of blood clotting factors by the diseased liver.

Individuals with cirrhosis also develop symptoms and signs from the complications of cirrhosis.