Cirrhosis, by definition, is chronic liver damage. Various reasons contribute to a long-time scarring of most of the liver cells, making the organ a hard lump with degrading efficiency.
A good part of the evidence in the case suggests that cirrhosis is irreversible. Very few studies advocate for possible recovery from cirrhosis under strict determining factors, the duration for example. Treatment may delay(or prevent in a few cases) the inevitable organ failure after cirrhosis has taken over most of the liver.
Treating cirrhosis involves substantial precautions, medications, and regular visits to the doctor’s clinic. Your doctor will probably ask you to change your lifestyle, eating and drinking habits, and may suggest surgery as a preventive measure. However, depending on how old and intense your liver cell scars are, the treatment might prevent liver failure or only be able to put it off for a particular period.
Precautions for Extreme Cases of Cirrhosis
When your doctor asks you to quit drinking, you must follow blindly and give up alcohol. No exceptions!
Alcohol, street drugs, and even the prescribed ones can have serious side effects on your system because your liver isn’t healthy enough to filter through them. Also, drugs like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, naproxen, or Aspirin could cause liver bleeding and alleviate the risks around your condition. It is strongly suggested that you come clean to your doctor about every substance you take, legal or otherwise.
Getting immunised against influenza, hepatitis A and B, and pneumococcus is also an excellent idea. Cirrhosis may cause fluid buildup in your chest and belly. Opt for a low-sodium diet to prevent fluid from collecting in your abdominal cavity.
Cirrhosis Could Give Way to Several Severe Complications
There comes the point in every case of cirrhosis where the liver runs out of healthy cells to compensate for the sick ones. Since there aren’t enough healthy cells anymore in the liver, the organ fails to meet the body’s needs. It is where the complications start showing up.
- Ascites or fluid build-up inside your abdominal cavity
- Encephalopathy or a toxic buildup that can cause mental issues
- Gallstone creation
- Easy bruising and bleeding
- Bleeding Varices
Treating the Complications
Ascites has to be controlled before the fluid accumulation could become fatally dangerous. Treating ascites calls for a strict no-sodium diet, and taking antibiotics and diuretic medicines. Doctors can remove the fluid with a needle when required and divert it from the belly by performing Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.
If you have cirrhosis, you could also be exposed to portal hypertension. The blood veins that carry blood from your intestines to your liver will have high pressure inside them. The veins in your rectum, oesophagus, and stomach will enlarge to balance out this high BP, making way for the blood that has been blocked from entering the liver. It may lead to ruptured veins, and thus variceal bleeding.
Beta blockers, shunts, vasoconstrictors, sclerotherapy, and balloon tamponade are a few drug-based and surgical approaches to deal with bleeding varices. Every time the varices bleed, the chances of this happening again increases manifolds. If not treated on time and with a proper approach, it may also cause death.
An inefficient liver means that many toxins do not get filtered. Take ammonia for example. If it accumulates in your bloodstream, it may cause encephalopathy and disturb the brain’s functionality.
Encephalopathy could cause depression, insomnia, disorientation, affect your memory, or push you into a coma. Treating or preventing it requires a monitored diet to avoid toxin buildup in the body. A drug called Lactulose can help to evade the toxic accumulation inside the body and thus is highly prescribed by doctors.
Sedative drugs like anti-anxiety medicines and sleeping pills could worsen a case of encephalopathy. Avoid them until stated otherwise by your medical care provider.
Symptoms May Deceive- Stay in Touch with Your Doctors
Cirrhosis doesn’t present many indications of the worsening condition of your liver until much later. The complications give up mild symptoms at times and none at others. Regular checkups, tests, bloodwork, and screening is essential to keep track of the liver condition and the state of all other existing or new complications.
The American College of Gastroenterology suggests endoscopy for all cirrhosis patients. The test helps determine the stage and situation of variceal bleeding which gives the doctor an idea of when and how to treat them.
You should also go for an MRI, a liver ultrasound, and an alpha-fetoprotein test, whenever your doctors ask for them. They will also check for liver cancer twice a year.
When Nothing Works Anymore, Transplant Becomes Your Sole Course of Action
Liver transplant becomes necessary when the organ is unable to function at all. A transplant is also your best bet at restoring the liver efficiency to above 75 percent and curing all the added complications that arise because of cirrhosis and portal hypertension.
However, getting a new liver is a different matter altogether. You may have a severe condition threatening your life, but there are rules in place to figure out the quality of your candidacy for receiving the next free liver. In addition to the waiting time for a new organ, the surgery is also costly, and there are no guarantees.
Post-transplant, your body could reject the liver. Or some other complications could show up and ruin the surgery. It is up to the doctor’s panel to decide your chances at a new organ. However, since you may need one sooner or later, it is better to abide by all rules, take all medicines, avoid drugs and alcohol, and stay on the prescribed diet.
Palliative Care Could Prove Useful
If you have crossed the point beyond which your options are strictly limited, and one or the other thing is inevitable, you can opt for palliative care.
This mechanics aims at improving your life’s quality by controlling any pain or side effect that may be unnecessary.
When a fatality become inevitable, you may choose to forego the treatments and spend the rest of your time without any hint of medicines or examinations. It is recommended to stay with the treatment options that control or ease your pain and make you feel comfortable.
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