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Cirrhosis - Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

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Prof. Dr. Najma G...

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Safeena Amjad

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Experience: 11 years

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Experience: 13 years

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Dr. Muhammad Isra...

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Experience: 14 years

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Dr. Ayesha Abbas

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Experience: 15 years

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Experience: 27 years

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Summary about Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis develops as a late-stage complication of liver disease. In the early stages of the disease, you may not experience any symptoms. Alcohol abuse, hepatitis, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease are all common causes. Cirrhosis treatment is determined by the cause of the disease and the extent of the damage. You may be considered for liver transplantation if your liver is failing.

Symptoms of Cirrhosis

Symptoms do not usually appear until the disorder has progressed. Some of the signs and symptoms include:

  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss
  • jaundice (yellow discoloration)
  • nose bleeds
  • small spider-shaped veins underneath your skin
  • itchy skin
  • anorexia
  • weakness

Serious symptoms include:

  • Having trouble thinking clearly and avoiding confusion
  • gynecomastia in which males start developing breast tissue
  • swelling of the legs (edema)
  • abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • impotence

Causes of Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is most commonly caused by:

  •  long-term hepatitis C infection
  •  chronic alcohol abuse
  • Obesity, alone or in combination with hepatitis C and alcoholism, can be a risk factor.

Other causes of cirrhosis are the following:

  • Hepatitis B can cause inflammation and damage to the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis.
  • Hepatitis D can also cause cirrhosis. It's most common in people who have already been diagnosed with hepatitis B.
  • Inflammation caused by autoimmune hepatitis can cause cirrhosis.
  • Damage to the bile ducts, which drain bile: Primary biliary cholangitis is an example of such a condition.
  • Disorders that affect the body’s ability to handle copper and iron: Examples are Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis.
  • Cirrhosis can be caused by various medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen, antibiotics, and antidepressants.

Treatment

Cirrhosis treatment varies depending on what caused it and how far the disease has progressed. The following are some of the treatments that your doctor may recommend:

  • beta-blockers or nitrates (if you have portal hypertension)
  • quitting drinking (if cirrhosis is caused by alcohol)
  • banding procedures (control bleeding from esophageal varices)
  • Antibiotics are given intravenously (for treating peritonitis which may occur with ascites)
  • hemodialysis (to purify the blood of kidney failure patients)
  • low protein diet and lactulose (to treat encephalopathy)
  • When all other treatments have failed, liver transplantation is the last option.

Preventive Measures of Cirrhosis

Following are the ways that can help you prevent cirrhosis:

  • Practice sex with a barrier method to reduce your risk of getting hepatitis B and C.
  • All infants and at-risk adults should receive hepatitis B vaccinations.
  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol, getting adequate exercise, and eating a balanced diet, can prevent or slow cirrhosis.

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