What is Liver Cirrhosis?
Liver fibrosis can progress to liver cirrhosis, which is the scarring of the liver due to long-term damage. The damage is irreversible – the more scar tissue there is, the harder it is for the liver to function.
Liver cirrhosis can lead to:
- Decreased in synthesis of protein and clotting factors
- Brain confusion due to high level of toxins in the blood and brain
- High venous pressure in the liver
- Increased risk of liver cancer
When significant liver damage has occurred, patients may experience the following symptoms:
- Black-coloured stools
- Changes in personality and confusion in severe cases
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites)
- Itchy skin
- Jaundice (yellowish eyes and skin)
- Loss of weight and appetite
- Red spider-looking spots on the chest and back
- Sleeping difficulties
- Swelling of the legs
- Vomiting blood
Liver damage caused by cirrhosis cannot be reversed. However, there are treatment options available to prevent or delay the onset of further damage and complications, depending on the cause of the cirrhosis:
- Cirrhosis caused by chronic alcohol abuse is managed by abstinence from alcohol.
- Cirrhosis caused by Wilson’s disease can be treated with medications that expel the copper accumulated in the liver.
- Hepatitis-related cirrhosis is treated with medication, depending on the type of hepatitis infection.
- Liver transplant may be necessary for patients with end-stage liver cirrhosis.