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Cirrhosis of the liver What is cirrhosis of the liver?Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver that involves the formation of fibrous (scar) tissue associated with the destruction of the normal architecture of the liver.
It is the result of long standing injury most commonly due to alcohol in excess but there are a number of other important causes (see below). It plays an important part in digestion of food but it also has a major role in metabolising drugs and making proteins, including those that help the blood to clot. Cirrhosis is a serious condition. Survival five years after diagnosis is dependent on the underlying cause of the cirrhosis. Cirrhosis was thought to be an irreversible condition, but recent research in alcoholic liver disease and hepatitis C infection indicates that the scarring can be at least partially reversed if the toxic agent (either alcohol or the hepatitis C virus) is removed. The severity of the liver disease can be assessed by a number of scoring systems the most commonly used are either the Child's Pugh classification or the MELD Score (model of end stage liver disease). The outlook is worse if the cause is alcohol and the patient continues to drink. What are the causes of the inflammation that leads to cirrhosis of the liver? Alcohol excess: the prevalence of cirrhosis in a country is directly oakley e wire related to the average alcohol consumption per capita in that country. Over half of all cases of cirrhosis in Western countries are due to alcohol excess. Non alcoholic steato hepatitis (NASH): a very important and increasing cause of cirrhosis is NASH, which develops from fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this condition excess fat is deposited in the liver leading to inflammation which may progress to cirrhosis. NASH is due to insulin resistance and is particularly seen in diabetics, those who are discount oakley glasses over weight and patients with high blood fat levels (particularly triglycerides). In the USA, NASH now accounts for 50 per cent of new cases of cirrhosis. Chronic viral hepatitis: the two most important viruses causing chronic liver disease are hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Cirrhosis due to hepatitis B is common in Africa and Asia. Hepatitis C is increasing in importance both in Europe and the US. Hepatitis A (infectious hepatitis) does not cause cirrhosis. Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC): this is an uncommon disease mainly affecting women. It is not due to alcohol. For some reason the body mounts an attack on the liver in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis causing damage to the liver bile ducts. This is known as an autoimmune disease and can be diagnosed confidently with blood tests, without the need for a liver biopsy. Autoimmune hepatitis: another uncommon condition that results in the body's immune system attacking and destroying liver cells. Drugs and chemicals: a number oakley sunglasses outlet online store of drugs and chemicals can cause liver damage but few cause cirrhosis. Certain specialised drugs need monitoring for their effect on the liver. Metabolic and inherited disorders: These are a number of uncommon conditions that allow the accumulation of toxins in the liver. In the early stages there may be no symptoms at all, and the disease may be discovered by abnormal liver blood tests as a result of an investigation for another illness. As the disease progresses, tiredness, weakness, lack of energy, loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss and fluid accumulation in the abdomen or legs may develop. Signs of chronic liver diseaseSigns of liver disease include the following. Abnormal skin vessels: called spider naevi, which is a spot surrounded by fine blood vessels Easy bruising: nosebleeds and easy bruising occur as a result of abnormal blood vessels and delayed clotting because the liver does not make enough clotting proteins. Nail changes: the shape and appearance of the nails may change. They may be more curved (clubbing) and they may be white rather than pink. Enlargement of breasts in men: the liver destroys the female sex hormones and in buy oakley frames cirrhosis these accumulate and cause enlargement of the breasts and shrinking of the testes in men. Abdominal distension (ascites): fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity known as ascites. This can lead to breathing difficulties due to pressure on the lungs. Abnormal clotting (known as a coagulopathy). Increasing tiredness (known as a hepatic encephalopathy). The liver is responsible for removing poisonous substances from the blood.
In cirrhosis, the blood may bypass the liver and these poisonous substances pass to the brain where they may result in alteration in brain function, causing confusion, drowsiness and finally coma. This is called hepatic encephalopathy. This is also serious and requires hospital treatment.
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