Advanced liver cirrhosis
Cirrhosis refers to scarring that takes place in the liver as a result of chronic liver disease. The healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue and liver functioning is adversely affected. Cirrhosis usually results due to alcoholism, fatty liver disease, or hepatitis B and C. However, there could be other causes as well. Some cases of liver cirrhosis may even be idiopathic, which means that there is no known cause for the condition.
Advanced liver cirrhosis is a very serious medical condition and cannot be ignored.
The scar tissue that forms in the liver as a consequence of cirrhosis cannot perform the normal function of the liver and so it cannot fight infection, create proteins, cleanse the blood, store energy, and help in digestion. In addition, it leads to obstruction of the normal blood flow through the liver. If there is excessive scar tissue, the liver is unable to function properly.
Advanced liver cirrhosis has the potential of becoming a life-threatening illness. However, liver cirrhosis can also be controlled if early treatment is administered. There can be several causes of liver cirrhosis. These include alcohol abuse, hepatitis B, C or D, blockage of the bile ducts, toxins, infections, autoimmune hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and inherited diseases such as Wilson disease and hemochromatosis. The individual may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of cirrhosis of the liver. As the disease progresses there may symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, appetite loss and weight loss. In cases of advanced liver cirrhosis, the liver starts to shrink as more and more scar tissue starts replacing normal liver tissue. In the final stages of liver cirrhosis, the flow of blood through the liver is severely restricted and the portal vein pressure increases. This causes the blood to flow into the smaller veins. In cases of advanced liver cirrhosis these veins may also burst due to excess pressure, thereby causing internal bleeding. Once the liver is unable to assist in detoxification of the body, problems in concentrations may occur. The blood toxicity may also alter cognitive function and result in coma.
Treatment for advanced liver cirrhosis involves administration of diuretics to reduce swelling, blood pressure medications to alleviate portal vein hypertension and medications to counteract the effect of toxins in the body. An individual’s life expectancy with liver cirrhosis is shorter than the average life expectancy. Liver cirrhosis is an irreversible condition, but appropriate measures such as abstinence from alcohol can have a positive effect on the prognosis. The right course of treatment can also slow down progression of the condition. In the final stages, liver failure is likely to occur and in such cases, life can only be sustained through a transplant.