Know the warning signs of liver cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a form of severe liver disease and happens because of multiple causes. It causes scarring that slowly replaces healthy tissue. Eventually, this blocks blood flow and makes it harder for your liver to do its job. It will not be able to filter toxins and help break down nutrients and medications. And the organ will not make proteins and other substances fast enough to meet your body's needs. Over the long term, it can shut down your liver.

You may not notice any problems at first! As your cirrhosis gets worse, you might start to feel more tired and less hungry. Your skin may start to itch, look more yellow, and bruise more easily. Your pee may darken, and your belly and legs might swell from extra fluid. Some people get nauseated and foggy-brained and start to forget things.

Cause - Alcohol addiction: Drinking too much can make your liver swell and hold on to more fat. This could lead to cirrhosis. It typically happens if you drink more than you should every day, sometimes for years. The amount of alcohol that causes liver damage differs for each person, so do not assume that because your heavy-drinking friend did not get cirrhosis, you will not either.

Cause - Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Here, something other than alcohol causes fat buildup in your liver. You are more likely to get it if you are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. You may notice symptoms like weight loss, tiredness, weakness, spider veins, or itchy skin.

Cause - Hepatitis C: If you have this disease for 6 months or more, it is called "chronic" and can lead to cirrhosis. The hepatitis C virus is the most common cause of chronic hepatitis, though there are others, like autoimmune disease as well as medication, bacteria, or other viruses. Hepatitis C often spreads when users of illicit drugs share needles, but you can also get it after having unprotected sex with someone who is infected.

Cause - Bile duct problems: Small tubes, called ducts, normally carry bile - a liquid that helps digestion - from your liver to your gallbladder. A number of conditions can narrow or block these tubes, which causes a backup of fluid that can inflame and damage your liver. Your doctor can usually clear your ducts with medication or minor procedures.

Cause - Medication: Some drugs can hurt your liver and lead to cirrhosis. Certain antibiotics, statins for high cholesterol, and acetaminophen may also be hard on your liver. Tell your doctor about all your medications and let them know if new drugs seem to make you tired, nauseated, itchy, or otherwise unwell.

Causes - Clots, genetics, and more: Any condition that scars the liver can cause cirrhosis. Clots can block the flow of blood to the organ or inside it. Your immune system could mistakenly attack and inflame it. Your genes could make it harder for your liver to break down certain nutrients like iron or copper. Or you might inherit conditions that add fat or scarring for no apparent reason. Other conditions which may lead to cirrhosis include autoimmune hepatitis, hemochromatosis, hepatitis B, and heart failure.

Treatment: There is no cure for the scarring already on your liver, but your doctor can sometimes stop or slow it down by treating the condition that causes your cirrhosis. If you have alcohol addiction, find out about therapy to help you quit. Weight loss can help for a fatty liver. Drugs can treat infections, bile duct problems, or autoimmune disorders. Work with your doctor to figure out what is causing your cirrhosis and how best to treat it.



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