Common Complications of Cirrhosis That You Should Know About

Cirrhosis is a serious disorder of the liver. It is basically a form of damage to the liver. The liver is the largest internal organ in the body and is responsible for multiple functions. The normal functioning of the liver is extremely important for living. It plays a vital role in removing and neutralizing the poison from the blood and it also makes a protein that regulates the clotting of blood and produces bile.

Any disorder occurring in the liver can lead to the damage of the liver cells, thereby resulting in scarring of the liver tissues known as fibrosis. Scarring of the damage liver tissues is a process called Cirrhosis, and it is a slow but progressive phenomenon. Sometimes, it may take up to 30 years to develop. It is associated with a wide range of symptoms and some of them are as follows:

  • Fatigue
  • Itching
  • Digestive tract bleeding
  • Edema
  • Jaundice

Causes of Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is defined as a final stage of chronic liver disease. There are many causes of cirrhosis and most often, it occurs due to alcohol or some other health problems.

  • Excessive intake of alcohol provides a significant impact on the liver and other parts of the human body. It is considered to be one of the common causes of cirrhosis.
  • Chronic hepatitis B virus and chronic hepatitis C virus are very common in patients having cirrhosis. Hepatitis is basically a term used for an inflammation of the liver.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a disease in which a fatty liver disease occurs in patients who do not consume alcohol. It is also one of the main causes of cirrhosis.
  • Primary biliary cholangitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis are autoimmune disorders which affect the small and large ducts in the body.

Complications associated with Cirrhosis

The liver is a vital organ in the body and whenever any damage is caused to the liver it affects an individual in many ways. Some of the complications that are associated with the development of cirrhosis are as follows:

1. Portal Hypertension

Portal hypertension is the most common complication of cirrhosis. Portal hypertension is defined as a condition which is characterized by high pressure in the portal veins. The development of cirrhosis causes the liver to become lumpy, which prevents the blood to easily flow through the liver. As the flow of blood is prevented this leads to the build-up of pressure in the portal veins. Pulmonary hypertension is considered to be the initial and main consequences of cirrhosis and is responsible for a large number of complications.

2. Ascites

Ascites is defined as an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. It is a common complication of cirrhosis and approximately 50% of patients having cirrhosis also suffer from ascites. Abdominal distension and rapid weight gain is the most common symptoms of ascites, but some patients also experience symptoms like swelling of ankles and shortness of breath. Some of the factors that contribute to ascites in patients having cirrhosis are as follows:

  • Portal hypertension localizes the fluid within the peritoneal cavity.
  • The decrease in the oncotic pressure of plasma due to impaired albumin production by the liver.
  • Increase in the production of hepatic lymph due to post-sinusoidal obstruction by the hepatic nodules.

Also Read: Marinate your Life in Coconut Oil

3. Varices

Varices in defined as an abnormal enlargement of veins in the lower part of the esophagus. Esophageal is a tube that connects the stomach and throat. When an individual suffers from any serious liver problem, the risk of developing varices increases. Problems in the flow of blood to the liver are considered to be the main cause of this disease is when the blood backs up to the nearby smaller blood vessels, causes the vessels to swell.

It is believed that if a patient having cirrhosis does not develop varices, then the patient does not have very high pressure in the portal veins. Some of the symptoms that occur with varices include blood with vomiting, bloody stools, and in severe cases, it can lead to shock.  

4. Hepatic Encephalopathy

Hepatic Encephalopathy indicates a wide range of neuropsychiatrist abnormalities due to advance hepatic insufficiency and the risk of developing Hepatic Encephalopathy is strongly associated with the severity of the liver disease. Hepatic encephalopathy alters the psychometric tests oriented toward attention, working memory, psychomotor speed, and visuospatial ability, as well as electrophysiological and other measures of the brain. As this disease progresses, this disease can also cause disorientation to time and space, inappropriate behavior, and the state of confusion.

5. Liver cancer

Cirrhosis can also lead to the development of cancer in the liver. Generally, cancer develops in the body when the cells in the body begin to have an uncontrollable growth. Liver cancer is a type of cancer which is defined as growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver. Liver cancer is of two types – primary and metastatic liver cancer.

  • When cancer starts in the liver, it is known as primary liver cancer.
  • When cancer starts in another part of the body and is then spread to the liver, it is known as metastatic liver cancer.

Tags: Cirrhosis symptoms, Liver cirrhosis stages, Liver cirrhosis diet

Photo of author

Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.