Every time your liver is damaged through disease such as hepatitis or lifestyle factors such as excess alcohol consumption, the organ attempts to repair itself. In doing so, scar tissue forms. Cirrhosis is the late stage of this scarring of the liver. As cirrhosis progresses, more and more scar tissue accumulates, which makes it difficult for the liver to function normally. The disease develops slowly over months or years, to the point where a person may become tired, weak, itchy, see swelling in the lower legs, and develop a yellow tint to the skin. Other symptoms of liver cirrhosis include bruising easily, fluid build up in the abdomen, and spider-like blood vessels visible through the skin. Cirrhosis is diagnosed through blood testing, medical imaging, and a liver biopsy.
The liver is one of the most vital human organs. It detoxifies the body from harmful substances, cleans the blood and makes essential nutrients. Cirrhosis causes destruction that is usually permanent. However, early diagnosis leads to treatment that can limit the damage.
Alcohol consumption is the most common cause of cirrhosis of the liver. Doctors believe having three or more alcoholic drinks per day can cause cirrhosis. The disease also strikes those who are overweight, are diabetic, and have high levels of blood fats or high blood pressure. There are less common causes of cirrhosis, such as autoimmune hepatitis, and gallstones. Medications can also trigger the condition. Complications of liver cirrhosis can lead to decompensated cirrhosis, which is life-threatening.
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