Liver cirrhosis is fibrosis or scarring of the liver. A late stage of liver scarring is called as cirrhosis. It can be caused by different types of liver problems and conditions, including hepatitis and chronic alcohol abuse. The liver is a very important part of your body as it performs several important functions such as detoxification of your body by removing harmful substances, producing vital nutrients and cleaning your body.
If there is damage to your liver, cirrhosis may happen. The liver damage that happens due to cirrhosis cannot be undone. However, if the problem is diagnosed early and treatment is offered, further damage can be controlled. With the progression of the problem, more scar tissues will form and the lever will not be able to function. Advance condition of cirrhosis is life-threatening.
Symptoms of liver cirrhosis
In general liver cirrhosis does not show any signs or symptoms. Symptoms appear only when the damage is extensive. The most important signs and symptoms of the problem include-
- Swelling in your legs
- Bleeding easily
- Itchy skin
- Weight loss
- Yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Fluid accumulation in your abdomen (ascites)
- Loss of appetite
- Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
- Bruising easily
- Spider-like blood vessels on your skin
Causes of liver cirrhosis
Cirrhosis happens when scar tissues form in the liver. If there is any damage to the liver, scar tissues start forming. Whenever the liver is injured, it starts repairing itself and in the process scar tissues starts forming. With more scar tissues, the general function of the liver is hampered and it cannot perform its crucial functions.
It is very important to find out the cause of cirrhosis because only then you can treat the underlying problem and prevent any further damage to your liver. Since different types of diseases can cause liver damage and lead to cirrhosis, so you need to know the exact cause of liver cirrhosis to handle it.
Some of the most common causes of cirrhosis are-
- Iron buildup in the body (hemochromatosis)
- Inherited disorders of sugar metabolism (galactosemia or glycogen storage disease)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Poorly formed bile ducts (biliary atresia)
- Genetic digestive disorder (Alagille syndrome)
- Copper accumulated in the liver (Wilson’s disease)
- Liver diseases caused by your body’s immune system (autoimmune hepatitis)
There are some other causes that may happen later in life which may also result in liver cirrhosis-
- Chronic alcohol abuse
- Destruction of the bile ducts (primary biliary cirrhosis)
- Fat accumulating in the liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)
- Hepatitis C
- Hardening and scarring of the bile ducts (primary sclerosing cholangitis)
- Hepatitis B
- Infection by a parasite common in developing countries (schistosomiasis)
Liver cirrhosis can result in several different complications. The complications in relation to blood flow are-
- High blood pressure-high blood pressure is often seen in the veins that supply the liver. This condition is known as portal hypertension.
- Swelling in the legs and abdomen-due to portal hypertension, accumulation of fluid may happen in the legs and in the abdomen.
- Enlargement of the spleen
- Bleeding due to small vein bursting
- Infections, including serious infection like bacterial peritonitis
- Malnutrition since your body is not able to process nutrients
- Toxin buildup in the brain known as hepatic encephalopathy
- Bone disease
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