Cirrhosis is a liver disease accompanied with an abnormal structure & function of the liver due to damage caused to the liver cells, which results in the death of the liver cells and formation of scars. The slow progress of liver cirrhosis if left unchecked, may lead to life-threatening complications of the liver and impact your overall health, but the information given below will help you to know it on time and approach your gastroenterologist or hepatologist as early as possible to avoid future health complications. By the way, Protecting your liver will not only make you healthier today but will ensure that that you have a healthier tomorrow.
here are a few questions that i get asked by my patients on a day to day basis:
What is the function of Liver in our body?
The liver carries out several necessary functions, including detoxification of harmful substances in your body including alcohol and drugs, cleaning your blood and making and storing some vital nutrients. Liver also Manufactures bile and helps in digestion, stores sugar in the form of glycogen, breaks down saturated fat and produces cholesterol.
What is Liver Cirrhosis?
In liver cirrhosis injury is caused to liver cells and they get killed. The injured liver cells start to repair; In the process, the inflammation and repair of the dying liver cells cause scar formation. Next, the liver cells that are alive multiply to replace the dead cells. This results in the formation of cluster of newly formed liver cells within the scar as shown in the figure. Cirrhosis is a liver disease accompanied with an abnormal structure & function of the liver. If unchecked it can even prove life-threatening.
Why You Get Liver Cirrhosis?
You get liver cirrhosis due to Hepatitis B & C disease, Alcohol abuse, Fatty Liver Disease associated with obesity & diabetes; viral Infections; blockage of the bile Duct; Heart attacks; accumulation of toxic metals: copper & iron in the liver due to genetic diseases; Certain medications, inherited disease like cystic fibrosis, prolonged exposure to environmental toxins, parasitic infections and autoimmune diseases.
What happens Due to Liver Cirrhosis?
In Liver cirrhosis as the association between liver cells and blood is lost, liver cells’ ability to add and or remove substances from the blood is also lost. The next problem is the disturbance of bile cells & bile channels – due to this toxic substances do not get removed, but accumulates altering the function of the liver and digestion because bile helps in both these functions. As a result of this scars form in the liver; detoxification of the toxins stops; the processing of nutrients, hormones and drugs stops; liver produces toxins.
What are the symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis?
The symptoms of the liver cirrhosis vary according to the stages of the disease. There are no symptoms in the beginning, but as the disease progresses, the symptoms include the following:
- Bleeding occurs
- weight loss
- Yellowing of the skin due to jaundice
- Loss of appetite
- Fluid retention (edema) and swelling in the ankles, legs, andabdomen (often an early sign)
- Blood in the stool
- Light-colored Stools
What are the Possible Complications?
Coagulopathy – bleeding disorders
Veins in the stomach, intestines and esophagus enlarge and bled easily
Increased pressure in the blood vessels of the liver (portal hypertension)
Mental confusion, change in the level of consciousness, or coma (hepatic encephalopathy)
Why Early detection of Cirrhosis is essential?
You must pay heed to this because liver damage due to cirrhosis can’t be replenished. Therefore, it is mandatory to diagnose cirrhosis early & treat it immediately to stop further liver damage. Moreover, cirrhosis is progressive and makes liver function more and more difficult. In the advanced stages, it could be life-threatening.
What Physical Examinations your doctor will do?
Your physician will look for swollen abdomen due to the accumulation of fluid and to detect enlarged spleen or liver; He will also look for red spider-like blood vessels on the skin and yellow eyes or skin (Jaundice).
What Tests Your Physician will recommend?
- Complete Blood Count
- Prothrombin time
- Liver function test
- Blood Albumin level
Other tests to check for liver damage include:
- Computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen
- Endoscopy to check for abnormal veins in the esophagus or stomach
- Ultrasound of the abdomen
- A liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
How can I prevent Cirrhosis of the liver?
- Avoid synthetic chemicals
- Avoid unprotected sex
- Avoid alcohol
- Maintain healthy weight
- Adopt personal hygiene
- Eat Healthy Diet low in salt
- Get your vaccination done for Hepatitis B and A, pneumonia and influenza.
- Talk to your doctor about all medicines you take, including herbs and supplements and over-the-counter medicines.
It’s not only you, but most of us often think that liver disease is life-threatening.However, proper knowledge of the disease and timely consultation with a hepatologist defy such notion. The sooner you begin comprehensive risk reduction, the longer and stronger your liver will function and retain its proper structure. Your Lifestyle Changes, knowledge about the disease and on time approach to a hepatologist not only minimize the risks of liver Disease, but also protects your liver to ensure the healthiest and happiest life. It is the best defense against liver disease and, in fact, your responsibility.
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