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Liver Cirrhosis

Marked by progressive scarring of the Liver, Cirrhosis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Some people also refer to it as end-stage liver disease, as people usually develop it as the result of damage caused by some other liver condition that has progressed to a later stage. It is most commonly seen in people who practice heavy drinking. As cirrhosis progresses, the liver continues to lose its ability to function, eventually giving rise to the need for a liver transplant.

What is Cirrhosis? 
Cirrhosis is a progressive condition in which the healthy cells of a patient’s liver get replaced by scar tissues, gradually resulting in the loss of liver function and leading to its failure. The damage caused by cirrhosis is permanent. The liver has regenerative properties, which means that every time the liver cells are damaged, they repair themselves. When the damage is frequent and continuous due to an underlying liver ailment or excessive alcohol consumption, our liver develops scar tissue, resulting in cirrhosis.

What causes Cirrhosis? 

  • Common factors that are known to cause Cirrhosis to include:
  • Alcoholic liver disease, which is triggered by excessive alcohol intake
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
  • Viral hepatitis 

Cirrhosis can also be a result of

  •  Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Diseases and ailments of the bile ducts 
  • Inherited liver problems 
  • Excessive use of certain medications and drugs. 

What are the symptoms of Cirrhosis? 
Cirrhosis progresses gradually and many patients do not experience any evident symptoms initially. These develop with time when the problem progresses and causes the liver to become dysfunctional. Common symptoms that could be an indication of cirrhosis include:

  • General body weakness and fatigue 
  • Bruising and bleeding easily 
  • Unexplained loss of appetite 
  • Feeling nauseated, especially post meals 
  • Oedema, which is marked by the accumulation of fluid in the lower extremities.
  • Unintentional loss of weight 
  • Developing skin rashes and itchiness 
  • Jaundice-like symptoms 
  • Ascites or build-up of fluid in the stomach
  • Reddening of palms 
  • Hepatic encephalopathy 
  • Gynecomastia or development of breasts in males.

When is the right time to see a doctor? 
It is advisable to see a doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms. Experiencing these does not necessarily indicate that you have cirrhosis and hence it is better to go for a detailed assessment before reaching any conclusion.

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