Hepatic Cirrhosis: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Definition: Cirrhosis is a chronic liver disease often associated with alcoholism.

After heart disease and cancer, cirrhosis is the third most common cause of death in people aged 45-65.

Cirrhosis is a general term for end-stage liver disease, which can have many causes, and which disrupts normal liver tissue.

Cirrhosis has no cure, but eliminating the underlying cause can slow the disease.

Causes

Cirrhosis can be caused by a number of conditions, including long-standing inflammation, poisons, infections, and heart disease.

Alcoholism most often causes the disease, followed by hepatitis, usually a viral infection of the liver.

However, 30-50% of cases of cirrhosis can not be found the cause.

Alcoholic cirrhosis:  Alcohol can poison all living cells and cause liver cells to swell and die.

His death leads his body to form scar tissue around the veins of his liver. Healing liver cells (nodules) also form and press on the hepatic veins.

This healing process occurs in 10-20% of alcoholics and is the most common form of cirrhosis. The process depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and for how long.

Some families may have more risk of this type of cirrhosis than others.

Post-necrotic cirrhosis:  hepatitis, a viral infection of the liver usually causes this disease, although poisonous substances can also cause it.

Two types of hepatitis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, cause 25-75% of these cases. Large areas of scar tissue are mixed with large areas of healing nodules.

Biliary cirrhosis:  when the small tubes that help digest food are blocked, your body mistakenly attacks itself and reacts against these bile ducts.

Gallstones often block the tubes and cause this type of cirrhosis. The disease usually affects women aged 35-60 years.

Heart cirrhosis:  the heart is a pump that drives blood throughout the body. When the heart does not pump well, the blood “backs up” in the liver.

This congestion causes liver damage. It can become bloated and painful. Later it becomes hard and less painful.

The cause of heart failure can be heart valve problems, smoking or infection of the heart muscle or the sac that surrounds the heart.

Signs and symptoms

The doctor may ask about alcohol abuse, hepatitis, toxic exposures, blood transfusions, or intravenous drug abuse.

You may experience one or more of these symptoms: nausea, loss or weight gain, fluid overload, feeling weak, tired and loss of sexual desire.

The skin and eyes may turn yellow (a condition called jaundice).

It is possible to suffer from fever, swelling or abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding from the gums or nose, blood in vomit or stools, and abnormal menstrual periods (in women)

Other symptoms include loss of muscle mass, swelling of the ankles, confusion (hepatic encephalopathy), and hemorrhoids.

Men may notice enlargement of the breasts (gynecomastia), inflammation of the scrotum or small testicles.

Diagnosis

The doctor may suspect cirrhosis if the patient has a history of alcohol abuse, intravenous drug use, or hepatitis, or if they have bleeding, jaundice, ascites (water that accumulates in the abdomen), or any brain disorder.

You can be diagnosed with cirrhosis after complications. Usually, the doctor can make a diagnosis based on the medical history and physical examination alone.

Taking a biopsy (taking a small tissue from the liver and studying it under a microscope) is still the only diagnosis that can be 100% safe.

The doctor can draw blood to look for problems with the electrolytes, blood count, coagulation capacity, or liver and kidney function.

Often, routine blood tests may seem normal, however, you can still have this disease.

Treatment

Cirrhosis can not be cured. The treatment is aimed at the underlying cause of the disease, to try to prevent further damage to the liver, and reduces the pain or discomfort of the symptoms of the disease.

The treatment plan depends on the cause of the cirrhosis, the complications that it experiences, the age and state of health.

A combination of the following approaches can be used to treat cirrhosis:

Medications : Discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor, including prescription and non-prescription medications, supplements, and herbal medications.

Diet and lifestyle : a healthy diet to avoid malnutrition. Reduce the consumption of salt to avoid stomach swelling (ascites) and legs (edema).

Stop taking anything that may damage the liver, such as certain medications. Of vital importance, stop drinking alcohol, as it can further damage the liver.

Finally, get vaccines for hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, influenza virus and pneumococcal pneumonia if your doctor recommends it.

Liver transplant : not all people with cirrhosis need a liver transplant. However, the main cause of liver transplants is cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C or alcohol abuse.

For patients who need a transplant, a section of the liver or the entire liver, they can be replaced with a healthy liver or liver section of another person.

The transplant can come from a living or dead donor. Before a transplant, the patient receiving the new organ must be healthy enough to undergo transplant surgery.

People who have a liver transplant should take medicine for the rest of their lives to prevent the body from rejecting the transplant.

Prevention

  • Practice safe sex using a condom.
  • Avoid sexual contact with people who have hepatitis B or C.
  • Avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes and other personal items.
  • Blood splashes should be cleaned with 1 part bleach (chlorine) plus 10 parts water to disinfect the area.