Regional Gastrointestinal Consultants

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis of The Liver

Overview

The term ‘Cirrhosis’ refers to advanced liver damage, characterized by dense scarring where the lobes are covered with fibrous tissue. Cirrhosis is the end point of many types of liver damage. Some causes include excessive alcohol consumption, iron overload, chronic viral hepatitis, autoimmune diseases, and chronic bile duct obstruction.

While cirrhosis usually takes many years to develop, it can also develop in a few months. Once cirrhosis has developed, it is irreversible, but that damage may stabilize if the underlying cause is removed or treated. If Cirrhosis is not treated, the liver will fail and will not be able to work well or at all.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Cirrhosis include: yellowing of the skin (jaundice); circulatory changes - reddening of the palms (palmar erythema), cyanosis, spider veins; endocrine changes - loss of libido and hair loss, males could experience breast enlargement (gynaecomastia), testicular atrophy and impotence while females may have breast atrophy, irregular menses or absence of periods (amenorrhoea). Bruising is also a symptom of cirrhosis and other symptoms may relate to portal hypertension - bleeding in the veins, an enlarged spleen etc. Complications of Cirrhosis include: buildup of pressure in the veins that go to the liver (portal hypertension); collection of fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites); alteration to the brain function caused by toxins not removed by the liver (hepatic encephalopathy); bleeding from dilated veins in the oesophagus (oesophageal varices); infection in the ascitic fluid (spontaneous bacterial peritonitis); malnutrition, and liver cancer.

There are usually no symptoms of Cirrhosis in its early stage. Over time, Cirrhosis may cause symptoms and complications:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Spider-like blood vessels
  • Severe itching
  • Jaundice, a yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes
  • Gallstones
  • Bruising and bleeding easily
  • Fluid buildup and painful swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites)
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE), a buildup of toxins in the brain that causes both mental and physical complications

Treatment

Diagnosis for Cirrhosis is made by microscopic examination of the liver (liver biopsy) and treatment options for Cirrhosis depend on the cause and the level of liver damage. Depending on the disease-causing Cirrhosis, medications or lifestyle changes may be used for treatment.

The goals of treatment are to prevent further liver damage and reduce complications. However, when Cirrhosis cannot be treated, the liver will not be able to work and a liver transplant may be needed.

IMPORTANT HEALTH NOTE

We recommend that people experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms do not attempt self-treatment. With many medications being available over the counter, and numerous do-it-yourself online unqualified remedy recommendation, it is natural to consider treating yourself but we highly recommend against this.

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms you may have a more significant issue than you would expect from the sometimes muted or infrequent symptom you may be experiencing. It is important to keep in mind that is you are having gastrointestinal symptoms or concerns it is best see a doctor to have those symptoms diagnosed and any conditions treated. Also, it is worth noting, that if health conditions do exist, the earlier they are diagnosed and treated, the greater the probability will be to successfully eliminate or manage a present condition, in fact successful outcomes will increase significantly with early detection.

If you have gastrointestinal concerns or are experiencing any gastrointestinal symptoms, please contact us promptly to schedule a consultation with a physician.


DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way, does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class physician regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today at (215) 321-4700 to schedule a consultation.