Cirrhosis is a consequence of chronic liver disease characterized by replacement of liver tissue by fibrosis, scar tissue and regenerative nodules (lumps that occur as a result of a process in which damaged tissue is regenerated), leading to loss of liver function. Cirrhosis is most commonly caused by alcoholism, hepatitis B and C, and fatty liver disease, but has many other possible causes. Some cases are idiopathic (i.e., of unknown cause). Ascites (fluid retention in the abdominal cavity) is the most common complication of cirrhosis, and is associated with a poor quality of life, increased risk of infection, and a poor long-term outcome. Other potentially life-threatening complications are hepatic encephalopathy (confusion and coma) and bleeding from esophageal varices. Cirrhosis is generally irreversible, and treatment usually focuses on preventing progression and complications. In advanced stages of cirrhosis the only option is a liver transplant.
Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver
Individuals with cirrhosis may have few or no symptoms and signs of liver disease. Some of the symptoms may be nonspecific, that is, they don't suggest that the liver is their cause. Some of the more common symptoms and signs of cirrhosis include
- Yellowing of the skin (jaundice) due to the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood
- Loss of appetite
- Easy bruising from decreased production of blood clotting factors by the diseased liver
- Individuals with cirrhosis also develop symptoms and signs from the complications of cirrhosis