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This Month In Health
  • Life after Vaccination
    Now that vaccines have arrived, more than two billion people around the world have received one. So can you get back to normal life now? Here’s what to expect. Read >>
  • How’s Your Circulation?
    Blood carries oxygen and nutrients throughout your body through blood vessels. Reduce that blood flow, and you may experience symptoms of poor circulation. Here's how to recognize it. Read >>
  • From the Bottle to the Liver
    Liver scarring is known as cirrhosis, and the damage can’t be undone. However, if diagnosed early enough and treated, the liver can continue functioning. Could you have cirrhosis? Read >>
  • An App a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
    Millions of apps are available on your smartphone that offer ways to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. The best part is that many are free. Here are a few of the most popular apps to try out for your good health. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

From the Bottle to the Liver

Cirrhosis: another reason to slow down on your drinking.

Your liver is about the size of a football, weighs approximately three and a half pounds, and has a lot of important jobs. It works to filter your blood and remove toxins. It produces bile, which helps digest fats. It takes the extra glucose in your blood and stores it as glycogen. It even creates proteins necessary for blood plasma and helps support healthy blood clotting. With so many responsibilities, it’s vital to keep your liver healthy.

When liver cells are damaged due to infection, disease, or excessive alcohol intake, the liver works to repair itself. This causes scar tissue to develop. Over time, this scar tissue builds up and replaces healthy liver cells, causing the liver to slowly lose function. This scarring is known as cirrhosis, and cirrhosis’s damage can’t be undone. However, if diagnosed early enough and treated, the liver can continue functioning.

How do you know if you have cirrhosis of the liver, what are the common causes, and how is it treated? Look below to find out.

What You’ll Notice

Unfortunately, cirrhosis often causes no symptoms until the late stages. At this point you may notice that you bruise or bleed easily. You may feel tired all the time or have no appetite. You may experience nausea, weight loss, itchy skin, or swelling in the ankles, feet, or abdomen. In some cases, the white or your eyes and your skin may turn a yellow color or the palms of your hands may turn a reddish color.

Many Possible Causes

The most common causes of scar tissue on the liver include alcohol abuse, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (often caused by obesity), and a hepatitis (B, C, or D) infection. But there are many other possible causes. Cystic fibrosis, iron buildup in the body, and excess copper in the liver can cause it. As can genetic diseases, autoimmune disease, other infections, and certain medications.

Making a Diagnosis

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, call your doctor for an appointment. The sooner you discover the cause of cirrhosis and get treatment, the sooner you can slow the development of scar tissue.

The condition is typically detected through a simple blood test or checkup. If cirrhosis is suspected, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis through imaging tests and additional blood work. A liver biopsy may be necessary to determine the severity of cirrhosis and the cause of scar tissue buildup.

Getting the Treatment You Need

Treatment for cirrhosis depends on the cause and extent of the damage. While scar tissue damage can’t be undone, the main goal of treatment is to prevent further harm to the liver. When damage is caused by alcohol consumption, get help to stop drinking. If fatty liver disease is at the root, take steps to lose weight. People with a viral hepatitis infection must take medications. Work closely with your doctor to monitor the ongoing health and function of your liver.

Cirrhosis can lead to health complications. When these arise, your doctor may advise a low-sodium diet or medication to help control swelling. Infections can be prevented or treated with vaccinations or antibiotics. Blood pressure medications may be prescribed to prevent internal bleeding from weak blood vessels. Steroids may help reduce inflammation in the liver. Medications may also help the liver do its job of removing toxins from the blood. Severe cases of cirrhosis may require a liver transplant.

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