Cirrhosis is a late-stage complication of liver disease in which the liver is damaged and scarred. This can be caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis and chronic alcohol abuse.
The liver carries out several necessary functions, including detoxifying harmful substances in your body, cleaning your blood and making vital nutrients. Damage done by cirrhosis to this vital organ cannot be undone, but if it diagnosed and treated early, further damage can be limited. Advanced cirrhosis can be life-threatening.
Cirrhosis often has no signs or symptoms until liver damage is extensive. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Bleeding easily
- Bruising easily
- Itchy skin
- Yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Fluid accumulation in your abdomen (ascites)
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling in your legs
- Weight loss
- Confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
- Spider-like blood vessels on your skin
Early detection of cirrhosis is crucial. If you have persistent signs or symptoms of cirrhosis, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bhatti.
How is cirrhosis diagnosed?
Dr. Bhatti may confirm the diagnosis of cirrhosis with:
- a medical and family history
- a physical exam
- a blood test
- imaging tests
- a liver biopsy
How is cirrhosis treated?
Treatment for cirrhosis depends on the cause of the disease and whether complications are present. In the early stages, the goals are to slow the progression of tissue scarring in the liver and prevent complications. As cirrhosis progresses, a person may need additional treatments and hospitalization to manage complications. Treatment may include:
- avoiding alcohol and illegal substances
- vaccinations and medication for hepatitis A and B, which can cause cirrhosis to worsen
- medications for cirrhosis-related complications
- banding, treating varices (enlarged veins in lower esophagus)
- ERCP, to remove gallstones
- a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy for liver cancer
- a liver transplant
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