Liver scarring, also known as liver cirrhosis, is triggered by several kinds of liver diseases like hepatitis, and conditions like alcohol addiction. Every time your liver is harmed, either by way of a disease, alcohol abuse or any other reason, it attempts self-repair leading to scar tissue. With the progression of cirrhosis, an increasing number of scar tissues tend to form, making the normal functioning of the liver difficult.
Generally, when liver damage caused by cirrhosis occurs, the damage can’t be reversed. Having said that, early tackling of liver damager can help resolve the condition and stop the progression to cirrhosis.
Here are a few things to watch out for when it comes to liver cirrhosis:
Generally, liver cirrhosis does not show too many symptoms until the liver damage is severe. Some symptoms include lethargy, being prone to bleeding or bruising, nausea, appetite and weight loss, leg, feet or ankle swelling, skin irritation (itchy), yellowing of the skin and eyes, fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites), spider-like blood vessels on the skin and reddening of the palms, among others. Some women may experience a loss of periods, while men might lose interest in sex, observe enlarged breasts or testicular atrophy.
There are several reasons why liver cirrhosis could occur and lead to liver damage. These include chronic alcohol abuse, chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis B, C, and D), accumulation of fat in the liver, the buildup of iron in the body and cystic fibrosis, among other reasons. There are also certain cases in which copper is accumulated in the liver, bile ducts are formed poorly or the patient suffers from inherited sugar metabolism disorders or from a genetic digestive disorder such as ‘Alagille Syndrome’.
There are certain factors that put you at a higher risk of developing liver cirrhosis. First of all, if you binge drink often, then excessive consumption of alcohol could trigger this condition. Next, obesity is a significant cause, as is the case with most health disorders. When you are obese, your chances of contracting a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis tends to rise. Lastly, if you have ever suffered or are suffering from any form of hepatitis, then your liver is already weak and damaged and can trigger cirrhosis.
Complications of cirrhosis
Here’s a low down on cirrhosis complications:
- Cirrhosis slows down the normal blood flow through the liver and increases pressure in the vein that is responsible for carrying blood to the liver from the intestines and spleen. This can happen especially in people suffering from high blood pressure.
- With an increase in pressure in the portal vein, fluid can accumulate in the legs and abdominal area. It could also occur due to your liver’s inability to make an adequate amount of blood proteins.
- Liver cirrhosis can also trigger the enlargement of the spleen. This leads to trapping of white blood cells and platelets. Get yourself checked if you notice a decrease in the count of WBCs.
- Cirrhosis can lead to excessive bleeding. This is especially because portal hypertension could lead to blood being redirected to smaller veins. With such pressure, these smaller veins could burst and lead to heavy bleeding.
- Since your body’s immune system is weak due to cirrhosis, you are at an increased risk of contracting infections. In certain cases, ascites can also cause a serious infection called bacterial peritonitis.
- A cirrhosis-damaged liver will not be able to purify the blood. With an increased level of toxins, the functioning of the brain could be affected. Confusion and lack of focus are then often observed in these cases, possibly leading to a coma.
- Cirrhosis can lead to diseases such as jaundice or in some severe cases, even progress to liver cancer.
We’ve often heard the phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’. So, try and keep cirrhosis under check by avoiding alcohol and consuming a healthy diet that is plant-based and rich in fruits and vegetables. Watch your weight and exercise regularly. Also, practice safe sex and remember never to share needles to avoid contracting hepatitis.