The term cirrhosis is coined for the condition in which our liver doesn’t function properly due to long-term damage. Often, the disease is recognized after years or months of encountering. Initially, the cirrhosis shows no signs but as time passes it can transform into a fatal disease. Cirrhosis causes loss of liver cells and irreversible scarring of the liver. Common causes of cirrhosis are excessive alcohol intake and viral hepatitis B.
People with cirrhosis may not show any symptoms of the disease or symptoms which are shown may be nonspecific for cirrhosis or any disturbance in function of liver. Some of the common symptoms of cirrhosis are:
- Yellowing of the skin causes by excessive and accumulation of bilirubin in the blood.
- Fatigue or being tired very early
- Loss of appetite
- Itching in body
- Easy bruising due to decreased production of blood clotting factors by the malfunctioned liver.
If you go to the doctor with these symptoms and they suspect you with cirrhosis on the basis of various tests for diagnosing cirrhosis, which will be followed after. These tests are:
- Blood tests – Alanine transaminase and aspartate transferase are the liver enzymes which are found in the blood. If you have inflammation in the liver the level of these enzymes will increase in your blood.
- Scans – Scans such as Ultrasound scan, computerized tomography scan, transient elastography scan, magnetic resonance imaging etc are used. These scans can produce detailed image of liver to check any scarring. These scans techniques are also used when someone is pregnant. Transient elastography is being used at the place of liver biopsy which is described in next point.
- Liver biopsy – In biopsy a very fine needle is inserted into the body to take a small sample of liver cells. The sample of liver cells is examined under microscope for diagnosing cirrhosis and other problems of the liver. Usually, biopsy is carried out after giving local anesthesia.
- Endoscopy – Endoscopy is a process in which a small camera is put inside your body which passed down our throat and into our stomach. The camera will send photos of digestive system on the computer systems through which doctor can see any swollen vessels, which is the sign of cirrhosis.
- Grading – It is a system which grades cirrhosis from A to C (relatively mild to severe) based on the examination and laboratory tests. There are different systems for grading cirrhosis which determine the seriousness of cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis can become complicated if not treated earlier. Complications can be edema, ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, bleeding from varies, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatorenal syndrome, hepatopulmonary syndrome and liver cancer. Liver damage due to cirrhosis cannot be reversed but getting proper treatment will prevent further damage to the liver. Transplant of the liver is very important option sometimes especially with patients with advanced cirrhosis. A healthy diet is prescribed, close follow-up is necessary. Antibiotics are prescribed to avoid any infection.