What Is Cirrhosis (Chronic Liver Disease)?
Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver (an organ in the right upper abdomen responsible for processing nutrients, making blood proteins and breaking down toxins). The scarring occurs when the liver tries to repair damage caused by other conditions.
Conditions that cause cirrhosis include:
- Alagille syndrome
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Drug-induced liver injury
- Glycogen storage diseases
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis D
- Hereditary hemochromatosis
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Wilson disease
As these conditions progress, more scar tissue develops, and liver function is impaired.
Though liver damage from cirrhosis cannot be reversed, treatment of the underlying cause can stop or delay further damage and prevent liver failure. Without treatment, scar tissue continues to build up, and liver failure occurs.
Signs and symptoms of cirrhosis may only occur once the liver is severely damaged. Signs and symptoms include:
- Fatigue – Extreme mental and physical tiredness that doesn't improve with rest
- Loss of appetite – Little to no desire to eat
- Unintentional weight loss – Weight loss that doesn't happen through diet and exercise
- Nausea – A feeling of sickness in your stomach that may lead to vomiting
- Abdominal pain – Discomfort in the right upper abdomen
Cirrhosis treatment involves managing the underlying condition to prevent further liver damage, improve symptoms and reduce complications. Treatment often includes taking prescription medicines and making lifestyle changes.
Sometimes cirrhosis is too severe to be treated. This is called chronic liver failure or end-stage liver disease (ESLD). In this case, a liver transplant is a possible treatment option. If you have ESLD, you and your doctor will discuss if you are a good candidate for a liver transplant.
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of cirrhosis, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat cirrhosis.