What is cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is a scarring of the liver, resulting in fiber formation (scar) tissue associated with the destruction of the structure of normal organs. It has long been mainly the result of damage due to alcohol above, but there are many other important reasons (see below).
figure via herbalprovider
The destruction of the normal architecture and loss of liver cells, preventing normal liver. It plays an important role in digestion of food, but it also has an important role in drug metabolism and the creation of proteins, including those that help the blood to clot.
Cirrhosis is a serious disease. Only 30 percent of patients with this problem will survive five years after diagnosis and prognosis is worse when the cause is alcohol, and the patient continues to drink.
What causes the inflammation that leads to cirrhosis of the liver?
- Excessive alcohol cirrhosis rates in the country, is directly related to the average alcohol consumption in this country. Half of all cases of cirrhosis due to alcohol abuse.
- Chronic viral hepatitis: two major viruses of hepatitis B and C cirrhosis due to hepatitis B is common in Africa and Asia. Hepatitis C is increasingly important in Europe and the United States. Hepatitis A (infectious hepatitis) does not cause cirrhosis of the liver.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis: is a rare disease that primarily affects women. Not because of alcohol. For some reason, the body mounts an attack on the liver in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis.
- Hepatitis, autoimmune chronic active: another rare condition that results in immune system attacks the body and destroys liver cells.
- Drugs and chemicals: the number of drugs and chemicals can damage the liver, but few cause cirrhosis. Some specialty drugs to monitor their effects on the liver.
- Metabolic and inherited: they are not too many conditions that allow the accumulation of toxins in the liver. The most common is hemochromatosis, which causes excess iron deposits in the liver.
What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?
The symptoms depend on the amount of liver damage has occurred. In the initial phase can not be at all, and the symptoms can be detected in the investigation of another disease. As the disease progresses, fatigue, weakness, loss of low energy, loss of appetite, nausea, weight may develop. In the later stages of liver tries to fulfill all its functions and some or all of the following symptoms may be present.
- Jaundice: This is a yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and eyes due to liver failure to remove a substance called bilirubin in the blood.
- Nail changes: the shape and appearance of the nails may change. They may be more curved (clubbing) and may be white and not pink.
- Skin changes: about a quarter of patients will be darkening of the skin.
- Water retention: what is common to a certain stage of cirrhosis. An important function of the liver is to get rid of excess fluid by the kidneys, and when not to, fluid accumulates in the legs (edema) or abdomen (ascites).
- Vascular disorders: the most common abnormality is marked by a spider, which is on the ground surrounded by small blood vessels. A red face is also common.
- Bruising nosebleeds and bruising occur as a result of abnormal blood vessels and delayed clotting because the liver does not have enough clotting proteins.
- Breast enlargement in men: the liver destroys the female sex hormone and cirrhosis of the accumulate and cause breast enlargement and shrinkage of testicles in men.
In a very advanced stage of disease, can cause serious complications. They include vomiting blood, or stomach ulcers or varicose veins entering the bottom of the gullet (esophagus). This is serious and requires hospitalization.
The liver is responsible for the disposal of toxic substances in the blood. In cirrhosis of the liver, blood, the liver can avoid these toxic substances and submit to the brain where they may lead to changes in the brain, causing confusion, drowsiness and finally coma. This is called hepatic encephalopathy. There is also a serious and require hospitalization.
Who is at risk?
The more a person drinks alcohol, the more likely that the development of cirrhosis. Women tend to be more sensitive than men. Therefore, it is advisable to limit alcohol consumption to 28 units per week for men and 21 units per week for women (units of alcohol a powerful liquor, beer, or half the normal size of a beer or a glass of wine).
Patients who have been infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Patients with primary biliary cirrhosis or chronic active hepatitis autoimmune disease.
Patients with metabolic abnormalities or hereditary.
How can I prevent cirrhosis?
Reduce intake of alcohol (see above).
Alcoholics should seek help.
Care must be taken to avoid the liver and if it is contained, it is important that it be treated.
Avoid contact with toxic chemicals in the workplace.
How is cirrhosis diagnosed?
If the clinical examination creates a suspicion of liver cirrhosis, the diagnosis can be confirmed by analysis of blood samples. While this can be confirmed by ultrasound, may be necessary to perform a liver biopsy to obtain samples of liver tissue. It can also provide information on the cause of cirrhosis.
If alcohol abuse and addiction is the cause, you must stop drinking alcohol immediately. Once alcohol has damaged the liver and liver cells are exposed to even small amounts of alcohol.
With the help of friends, family and one of the organizations that specialize in helping people with alcohol problems. Your doctor will be able to help.
Try to lead an active life. This can be difficult because of fatigue and weakness, but it is worth persevering.
If your legs are swollen, it can help raise the rest.
- Avoid all alcohol.
- Eat well-balanced diet rich in protein (only after consulting your doctor.)
- Avoid adding salt to meals. Salt can be used in small quantities in the kitchen.
- Subsequently, the amount of protein you eat can be reduced from time to time (based on medical opinions).
- Vitamin and mineral supplements may be necessary.
Impotence in men. It is a combination of the effects of alcohol and liver cirrhosis.
Severe internal bleeding varices in the stomach or esophagus. This is serious and requires hospitalization.
Liver cancer, which occurs at a later stage in many patients with cirrhosis of the liver.
Blood poisoning caused by an infection, excessive fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites).
progressive liver damage can be stopped by removing the cause. These tips are based on alcohol. Treatment is available for a chronic infection of hepatitis B and chronic infection with hepatitis C. Excess iron can be treated by removing blood regularly. Hepatitis, autoimmune chronic active can be treated with steroids that suppress the immune system and prevent attacks liver cells.
Although the damage can be repaired, the symptoms can be relieved and controlled. If treatment begins early, the victim may be able to lead an almost normal life. If the cause is not removed, but scarring and destruction of the structure of the liver ultimately lead to liver failure and death.
How is cirrhosis treated?
In addition to removing the cause, cirrhosis of the liver can not be processed. The emphasis is on the issue and reduce the complications of the disease.
The following methods are used:
- Diuretics (water pills) to treat fluid retention in the legs (edema) or abdomen (ascites).
- Vitamins and mineral supplements.
- Calorie supplements (usually sugar-based drinks) to maintain nutritional value.
- Laxatives (usually a solution called lactulose syrup) to prevent constipation and reduce the risks of toxic substances, except liver, intestine and the achievement of the brain, causing drowsiness, confusion and coma (hepatic encephalopathy ).
- Some patients have bleeding from ruptured esophageal varices in the lower part can be placed on a drug called propranolol, which reduces the pressure in the veins and reduces their chances of re-bleeding.
- Finally, the liver can be considered marginal in patients with cirrhosis.