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Cirrhosis – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Liver cirrhosis is also called hepatic cirrhosis. It is the condition that refers to a damaged liver.

The disease is highly prevalent among the masses due to the sedentary lifestyle. According to NIDDK, the condition is found in 1 in every 400 adults in the United States.

In cirrhosis or liver fibrosis, scarred tissue replaces the healthy liver tissue, damaging the organ permanently. In addition, blood flow stops in the liver because of the scar tissues that decelerate the liver’s capability to process drugs, hormones, nutrients, and natural toxins.

What Is Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is the advanced stage of liver fibrosis or scarring of the liver tissue. This scarring can result from various factors, including chronic alcoholism, diseases, or obesity. Additionally, viral hepatitis also leads to cirrhosis of the liver.

Fibrosis is not a sudden phenomenon. Every time something inhibits the smooth functioning of your healthy liver, the organ is damaged a bit. However, it has miraculous healing tendencies. But each time the liver heals itself, it scars the tissue.

If not taken care of, this process continues, and in the advanced stage, all that is left is scarred tissues. This is called advanced cirrhosis of the liver.

At this stage, cirrhosis of the liver is fatal.

Cirrhosis Symptoms

If you a chronic alcoholic, lead a desultory lifestyle and have started noticing weak liver function, watch out for the following cirrhosis symptoms. These are the signs of liver problems

  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Distress in abdomen
  • Severe itchiness
  • Bleeding gums
  • Paleness in skin and eyes
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep disorders
  • Swelling feet, legs, and ankles
  • Muscle cramps
  • Breathing problems
  • Vomiting blood
  • Nose bleeds

Liver pain is also among the cirrhosis of the liver symptoms. How does it feel when your liver hurts? Following are the liver pain symptoms-

  • Mild and non-specific
  • Backache
  • Kidney pain
  • Pain in the right shoulder
  • Pain in abdomen

What causes cirrhosis of the liver?

There are a number of factors that leads to cirrhosis of the liver-

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Chronic Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or Hepatitis D, viral hepatitis
  • Iron accumulation in the body
  • Medical ailments that make it difficult for the body to treat sugars
  • Accumulation of fat in the liver
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Damage to the bile duct. The bile duct is responsible for transporting digestive enzymes from the liver to the intestine.
  • The autoimmune disease
  • Side-effects of certain medications
  • Certain infections and digestive disorders
  • Diseases that affect the body’s capability of managing iron and copper

What are the four stages of cirrhosis?

  1. Steatosis– This is the stage I of liver disease. Abdominal pain and inflammation in the bile duct occur. Here, it is possible to prevent and control from advancing to stage II, which is-
  2. Scarring– This is a more noticeable stage of cirrhosis. Here, obstruction of the blood flow to the liver starts. At this stage, too, the disease can still be controlled.
  3. Cirrhosis– In stage III of cirrhosis, the scarred tissues have completely replaced the healthy tissues of the liver, causing permanent fibrosis of the liver. The organ becomes hard at this stage, significantly inhibiting the blood flow.
  4. Liver failure- The fourth and final stage of liver cirrhosis is the failure of the liver and calls for emergency medical treatment.

How do you test for cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis can be diagnosed in the following ways:

Physical examination

In the physical exam for cirrhosis, your doctor will examine the feel and appearance of your liver. In cirrhosis, the liver becomes irregular and bumpy.

Blood tests

Blood tests assist in diagnosing cirrhosis. Your doctor will take a small sample of your blood and examine it.

Other tests

In a few cases, a doctor can recommend an ultrasound or CT scan. Several pictures of the liver help in diagnosing the problem.

Can cirrhosis be cured?

Yes, medical science has paved several avenues for the treatment of liver cirrhosis. Check them out below.

How Is Cirrhosis Treated?

Cirrhosis is not curable, but it is treatable. While getting the cirrhosis treatment, you can ensure the following two things:

  • No further damage to the liver.
  • Prevent complications.

Your healthcare specialist will provide you with the treatment catered to your needs. The root cause and the damage caused to the liver have a significant role in deciding the type of treatment you require.

Alcohol Dependency Treatment

People who have cirrhosis by excessive alcohol consumption should stop drinking straight away. Even a tiny amount of further alcohol use can worsen the condition.

If you are suffering from alcohol addiction and find it difficult to stop it completely, consult your doctor. He may suggest treatment for alcoholic fatty liver. Medicines containing metadoxine (Livodox, Metadoxil, Alcoliv) will help treat such conditions.

Hepatitis Treatment

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis. However, you can get the treatment for these diseases and preclude liver damage. Antiviral therapies are now available for the treatment of Hepatitis C.

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Treatment

If you are obese or overweight, you can get non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. To treat this medical condition, lose weight through a healthy diet and exercise. In addition, irrespective of the cause of cirrhosis, you should stop consuming alcohol.

Blockage Of Bile Duct Treatment

Medicines like Ursodiol treat cirrhosis due to a blockage in the bile duct. However, the doctor can also perform surgical operations to open the blocked bile duct.

The ailments that narrow down or block the bile duct include primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cholangitis.


Doctors generally confirm the diagnosis of the liver with a biopsy. Then, a small liver sample is removed and examined for the disease.
Biopsies can reveal the presence of abnormal cells in the liver, like cancerous cells or cells affected by similar diseases.


In some cases, the doctors come to detect cirrhosis only while they are performing surgery. Laparoscopy can also help in the detection of cirrhosis.

In laparoscopy, the doctors insert a small device into the abdomen through a minor cut. This process is called key-hole surgery or minimally invasive surgery.

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Photo of author Janet Fudge
Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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