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Friday, 22 September 2017

What is Liver Cirrhosis?

What is Liver Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis of the liver describes a condition where scar tissue gradually replaces healthy liver cells. The main causes are sustained, excessive alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis B and C, and fatty liver disease - however, there are other possible causes.
If cirrhosis is mild, the liver can make repairs and continue functioning properly. If the cirrhosis is advanced, and more and more scar tissue forms in the liver, the damage is irreparable.

Causes of cirrhosis
Common causes of cirrhosis are:

long-term alcohol abuse
hepatitis B and C infection
fatty liver disease
toxic metals
genetic diseases

Symptoms of cirrhosis
Symptoms are not common during the early stages of cirrhosis. However, as scar tissue accumulates, the liver's ability to function properly is undermined. The following signs and symptoms may occur:

blood capillaries become visible on the skin on the upper abdomen.
fatigue
insomnia
itchy skin
loss of appetite
loss of body weight
nausea
pain or tenderness in the area where the liver is located
red or blotchy palms
weakness

Diagnosis of cirrhosis

One of the primary methods of diagnosis is through a blood test.
Because there are rarely symptoms early on in the condition, cirrhosis is often diagnosed when the patient is being tested for some other condition or disease.

Blood test - to measure how well the liver is functioning. If levels of ALT (alanine transaminase) and AST (aspartate transaminase) are high, the patient may have hepatitis.
Imaging tests - ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans. Apart from seeing whether the liver is enlarged, the doctor will also be able to detect any scarring or nodules.
A biopsy - a small sample of liver cells are extracted and examined under a microscope. The biopsy can confirm cirrhosis and its cause.
Endoscopy - a long, thin tube with a light and video camera at the end goes down the patient's foodpipe (esophagus) and into their stomach. The doctor looks out for swollen blood vessels (varices), a hallmark sign of cirrhosis.

Prevention of cirrhosis
Alcohol - do not exceed the recommended daily/weekly alcohol limit.
Do not share needles when injecting drugs.
Safe Sex
People at risk of becoming infected with hepatitis B, such as healthcare workers, social care workers, and police personnel can be vaccinated

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