Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious condition in which the liver becomes scarred and can’t function properly. This can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body and serious health problems. Cirrhosis is caused by long-term damage to the liver, most commonly from chronic alcoholism and hepatitis C.
Other causes of cirrhosis include:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Hemochromatosis (a genetic disorder that causes the liver to absorb too much iron)
- Primary biliary cirrhosis (a rare autoimmune disorder that attacks the bile ducts in the liver)
Symptoms of cirrhosis can include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Bruising and bleeding easily
- Confusion and memory loss (hepatic encephalopathy)
- Spider-like blood vessels on the skin
Diagnosis of cirrhosis is typically made by a physical examination, an evaluation of medical history and may include imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI or ultrasound and blood tests to check the liver function.
Treatment for cirrhosis will depend on the underlying cause and the stage of the disease. Some common treatments include:
- Medications to control symptoms and complications
- Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol
- Treatment of the underlying cause of the cirrhosis (such as antiviral medication for hepatitis C)
- Surgery to remove damaged tissue
- Liver transplant if the cirrhosis is severe and other treatments are not effective.
It is important to note that cirrhosis is a progressive disease and the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. Additionally, avoiding alcohol and hepatitis C treatment are the most important ways to prevent cirrhosis.
To discuss diagnosis and treatment options, please book an appointment with our specialist.
To learn more about cirrhosis, please click on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cirrhosis/
Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych