Understanding the Liver

CIRRHOSIS OF LIVER


Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and naturally produced toxins. It also slows the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver. According to the National Institutes of Health, cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death by disease.


CAUSES

• Fatty liver associated with obesity and diabetes.
• Chronic viral infections of the liver (hepatitis types B, C, and D; hepatitis D is extremely rare).
• Repeated bouts of heart failure with fluid backing up into the liver.


TREATMENT

• For cirrhosis caused by alcohol abuse, the person must stop drinking alcohol to halt the
progression of cirrhosis.
• If a person has hepatitis, the doctor may prescribe steroids or antiviral drugs to reduce liver
cell injury.
• For people with cirrhosis caused by autoimmune diseases, Wilson’s disease, or
hemochromatosis, the treatment varies.


SYMPTOMS

• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss or sudden weight gain
• Bruises
• Itchy skin
• A brownish or orange tint to the urine
• Light colored stools


PREVENTION

• Avoid high-risk sexual behavior such as unprotected sexual contact with multiple partners.
• Be careful around synthetic chemicals, such as cleaning products and pesticides. If you come
into contact with chemicals often, wear protective clothing and a facemask.
• Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
• Eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet high in fruits and vegetables and take vitamins.



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