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Liver » Liver Transplant

Let's Talk About Cirrhosis- What It Is, What It Does, and How It Affects You

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Cirrhosis comes at the terminal junction of a liver disease. The liver is injured to the point of no return. Chronic exposure to toxins like alcohol, multiple attacks by viruses like hepatitis, or an injury to the organ is a few among many reasons which can end up in cirrhosis.

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Your liver is a primary organ that pretty much regulates your ability to live. It keeps toxins away from your blood. It produces bile, clotting factors, and important hormones & proteins. It controls the amount of protein, fat, and sugar in your bloodstream. It stores minerals, vitamins, and sugar that’s supplied per requirement to your body.

However, cirrhosis changes all this. The healthy liver tissue gets toughened and turns into scar tissue. Liver efficiency plummets. Toxins build up. Clotting factors aren’t produced in enough amount. Your body begins to suffer from portal hypertension, easy bruising, severe bleeding, digestive tract issues, etc.

The Journey of Cirrhosis

A human liver can regenerate damaged cells. However, long-term and repeated injury can scar more healthy cells than what the liver can heal in an instance.

Also, heavy alcohol use, hepatitis infections, autoimmune diseases, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, blocked bile ducts, genetic diseases, etc. contribute to further scarring of liver tissue. It begins with fat accumulation in the liver followed by scarring, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.

Scarring is usually followed by shrinking and hardening of liver cells. It directly affects liver function and results in reduced efficiency.

Cirrhosis Symptoms

Signs are often absent in the early stages of liver damage. The symptoms become visible only after the liver fails to purify the blood. Because of weak filtering efficiency, toxins can get into the blood and affect the rest of the body.

The symptoms include jaundice, weight loss, nose bleeds, easy bruising, weak appetite, variceal bleeding, anorexia, weakness, itchy skin, pale skin, enlarged liver, hand tremors, etc. Severe symptoms include cognitive inefficiency, confusion, oedema, ascites, and excess breast tissue development in men among others.

Diagnosing the Condition

If you notice any symptoms of liver damage and rush to a doctor, they may begin with a physical test. They may order tests like blood work, albumin, liver function, blood clotting, and liver cancer screening to evaluate the state of your liver.

Evaluatory tests can also involve ultrasound, MRI, CT scan, and liver biopsy to pin down the cause of cirrhosis, if present. Treatments vary as per the conclusions of diagnostic tests.

Complications of Cirrhosis

Because of the hard and shrunken cells, nutrient-rich blood flowing through the cells get restricted. The blood flows back into the portal vein, congesting it, and thus causing portal hypertension. This increased pressure results in variceal bleeding.

With the liver shutting down part by part, several issues stem up. Your platelet count drops. Poor clotting results in bruising. Bleeding becomes difficult to stop. Your body becomes extremely sensitive to medications. Insulin resistance, gallstones, type 2 diabetes, oesophagal varices, enlarged spleen are a few other complications that may lead to kidney or liver failure.

Can You Prevent Cirrhosis?

Keep your drinking habits under control. Eat a balanced diet. Get enough exercise. Avoid getting obese or overweight. Bear in mind that your liver comes with a self-healing property. As long as you succeed in keeping the damage to the organ in a limit, it will be able to regenerate the injured parts.

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