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Cirrhosis of the liver

Cirrhosis of the liver: Introduction

Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious disease that results in permanent damage to the liver. Cirrhosis of the liver critically affects its ability to function normally. It is an ongoing, chronic disease and can lead to grave, even lethal, complications in other vital organs and body systems, such as the kidneys, immune system, brain, circulatory system and digestive system.

The liver is a vital organ, and normal functioning of the liver is crucial to health and life. In cirrhosis of the liver, an underlying disease or conditions cases scar tissue to form in the liver. This scar tissue reduces the liver's ability to do its vital job in helping the body to fight infection, stop bleeding, clear the blood of toxins, store energy, produce healthy blood, digest food and remove waste.

There are a variety of diseases and conditions that can cause cirrhosis of the liver. The most common causes include chronic hepatitis C and alcohol dependence or alcoholism. Other causes include hepatitis B, autoimmune hepatitis, and hemochromatosis.

Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver can differ between individuals depending on such variables as stage of the disease, age, underlying cause, medical history, the presence of complications and general health. One classic symptom is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Cirrhosis of the liver can result in serious, potentially life-threatening complications, such as portal hypertension, liver failure, hemorrhage, kidney failure, and death. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver.

Making a diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver includes performing a complete medical evaluation and history and physical examination. This includes questioning about alcohol use and exposure to such potential underling diseases as hepatitis. An abdominal examination may reveal a liver that is harder or larger than normal.

Diagnostic testing includes liver function tests. These are blood tests that can reveal abnormal functioning of the liver. Imaging tests that create a picture of the liver may include an ultrasound, CT, and/or a nuclear liver scan.

In some cases, a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy may also be performed. This procedure allows the physician to visualize the liver using a special lighted instrument, called a laparoscope. The laparoscope is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen and moved into place to view the liver and send pictures to a computer screen. This procedure and is minimally invasive and may include taking a small sample of liver tissue, called a biopsy, to examine for signs of scarring. A liver biopsy may also be performed by inserting a long needle through the abdomen into the liver.

It is possible that a diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver can be missed or delayed because there are generally no symptoms in the early stages and for other reasons. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver.

The scarring of the liver caused by cirrhosis of the liver cannot be reversed or cured. However, patient compliance with a good treatment plan may be able to slow or stop progression of the disease and minimize complications. Treatment may include medication, lifestyle changes, and treating any underlying conditions, such as alcohol dependence or hepatitis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of cirrhosis of the liver. ...more »

Cirrhosis of the liver: Cirrhosis of the liver is permanent damage to the liver by scar tissue. Although alcoholic liver disease is one of the major causes of cirrhosis, it is not the only one, accounting for only about half of the cases. Cirrhosis can also be caused by numerous other diseases ranging from viral hepatitis to genetic diseases. ...more »

Cirrhosis of the liver: Symptoms

Most people with cirrhosis of the liver experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, because small amounts of scarring do not significantly affect the functioning of the liver. However, if the cause of the cirrhosis of the liver is not addressed, the disease can advance and create enough damage to the liver tissue to create symptoms.

...more symptoms »

Cirrhosis of the liver: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for cirrhosis of the liver uses a multifaceted approach and varies depending on the cause of the disease. Treatment plans are individualized to best fit the patient's age, medical history, and stage of the disease. The goal of treatment is to stop or slow the progression of damage to the liver and minimize and quickly treat ...more treatments »

Cirrhosis of the liver: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver begins with taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam that includes an abdominal exam. A diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver may be overlooked or delayed because in its early stages there generally are no symptoms. In addition, symptoms, such as poor appetite, fatigue, weight loss, and weakness, are ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the liver

Treatments for Cirrhosis of the liver

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Cirrhosis of the liver?

Cirrhosis of the liver: Related Patient Stories

Cirrhosis of the liver: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Cirrhosis of the liver.

Alternative Treatments for Cirrhosis of the liver

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Cirrhosis of the liver may include:

  • Milk thistle (silymarin)
  • Neominophagen C (glycyrrhizin, cysteine, glycine)
  • Salba seeds and salba seed oil
  • more treatments »

Diagnostic Tests for Cirrhosis of the liver

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Cirrhosis of the liver: Complications

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Causes of Cirrhosis of the liver

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Disease Topics Related To Cirrhosis of the liver

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Cirrhosis of the liver: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Cirrhosis of the liver

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed,...read more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. The digestive system contains a...read more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but...read more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In fact, it's more likely to be...read more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal...read more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a...read more »

Chronic liver disease often undiagnosed: One study reported that 50% of patients with a chronic liver disease remain undiagnosed by their primary physician. The reasons are...read more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are...read more »

Cirrhosis of the liver: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Cirrhosis of the liver

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Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Cirrhosis of the liver, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Cirrhosis of the liver: Rare Types

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Latest Treatments for Cirrhosis of the liver

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Cirrhosis of the liver

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Cirrhosis of the liver: Animations

Prognosis for Cirrhosis of the liver

Research about Cirrhosis of the liver

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Prevention of Cirrhosis of the liver

Prevention information for Cirrhosis of the liver has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Cirrhosis of the liver.

Statistics for Cirrhosis of the liver

Cirrhosis of the liver: Broader Related Topics

Cirrhosis of the liver Message Boards

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Article Excerpts about Cirrhosis of the liver

Cirrhosis of the Liver: NIDDK (Excerpt)

In cirrhosis of the liver, scar tissue replaces normal, healthy tissue, blocking the flow of blood through the organ and preventing it from working as it should. Cirrhosis is the eighth leading cause of death by disease, killing about 25,000 people each year. Also, the cost of cirrhosis in terms of human suffering, hospital costs, and lost productivity is high. (Source: excerpt from Cirrhosis of the Liver: NIDDK)

Alcohol What You Don't Know Can Harm You: NIAAA (Excerpt)

About 10 to 20 percent of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. Alcoholic cirrhosis can cause death if drinking continues. Although cirrhosis is not reversible, if drinking stops, one's chances of survival improve considerably. Those with cirrhosis often feel better, and the functioning of their liver may improve, if they stop drinking. Although liver transplantation may be needed as a last resort, many people with cirrhosis who abstain from alcohol may never need liver transplantation. In addition, treatment for the complications of cirrhosis is available. (Source: excerpt from Alcohol What You Don't Know Can Harm You: NIAAA)

Definitions of Cirrhosis of the liver:

A chronic disease interfering with the normal functioning of the liver; the major cause is chronic alcoholism - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

 

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