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What is Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis of the liver occurs when scar tissue forms and replaces healthy tissue due to repeated injury to the liver. Unlike healthy liver tissue, scar tissue cannot perform the various functions of the liver and as a result patients experience symptoms including fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, nausea, unexpected weight loss, bruising, edema, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), GI bleeding, ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen), and confusion.

What causes Cirrhosis?

Common causes of cirrhosis include chronic alcohol abuse, viral hepatitis, and fat accumulation in the liver (fatty liver disease). However, if liver disease is identified early and contributing factors are removed such as alcohol use or hepatitis C, liver damage can be halted, and cirrhosis will never develop.

Liver damaged is measured in stages. Stages progress as liver scarring occurs and healthy liver tissue is replaced with fibrous tissue. As liver damage progresses, healthy tissue is replaced with non-functional scar tissue making it more and more difficult for the liver to carry out its vital functions within the body. Cirrhosis is the last stage of this process.

Can Cirrhosis be cured?

Unfortunately, once enough scar tissue has replaced healthy liver tissue this process cannot be cured or reversed. This is considered late-stage or decompensated cirrhosis. Medications can be used to manage the symptoms of this disease process, but you will remain at a higher risk of liver cancer for the rest of your life and may eventually require liver transplant.

For more information about cirrhosis and liver disease: