Hepatic cirrhosis. All we need to know about this terrible illness
Cirrhosis is a disease that can be fatal and occurs when fibrosis develops in liver tissue. Fibrotic tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents it from functioning normally. Cirrhosis occurs after many years of inflammation of the liver tissue.
Statistical data shows that cirrhosis is the third cause of mortality in industrialized countries after cardiovascular disease and cancer in the 45-65 year-old population.
Why disease occurs:
Hepatic cirrhosis can have many causes. There are people who have this disease without a specific cause, in which case the disease is called cryptogenic cirrhosis.
Among the causes of cirrhosis are: infections, many toxins, biliary obstruction and vascular disorders. But the most common cause of the disease is due to the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages for a long time. Also, hepatitis B and C infection. Hepatic cirrhosis secondary to hepatitis infection occurs in approximately 40% of people with chronic viral hepatitis. Cirrhosis develops slowly, and may occur more than 20 years after the onset of hepatitis. But when a patient with chronic viral hepatitis consumes alcoholic beverages in large quantities, the disease installs much faster, warns doctors.
Types of cirrhosis:
- Alcoholic liver cirrhosis. It usually occurs in men who consume large quantities of alcoholic drinks daily for 10-15 years. Women get alcoholic cirrhosis after lower alcohol consumption per day for the same amount of time. Statistical data shows that 15% of chronic consumers eventually make alcoholic liver cirrhosis.
- Hepatic cirrhosis secondary to liver virus infection. This disease occurs in approximately 40% of people with chronic hepatitis of viral etiology. The disease installs slowly, requiring 20 years or more until its appearance.
- Hepatic cirrhosis due to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a suffering caused by fat accumulation in the liver. This disease is becoming more common and can be the cause of many cirrhosis classified as being of unknown etiology.
- Primal biliary cirrhosis. It is a type of cirrhosis that occurs when the bile ducts from the liver to the duodenum are inflamed and blocked. The exact cause is still unknown, but it is believed to be related to immune system resistance.
- Autoimmune hepatitis. There are cases when, in some people, the immune system attacks the liver, causing hepatic cirrhosis.
- Inherited diseases. Cirrhosis can sometimes be caused by a congenital illness such as Wilson's disease, cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis.
How it is:
Usually liver cirrhosis presents symptoms only when the disease becomes severe. The patient feels always tired, has no appetite, lowers weight, the skin gets yellow. In addition, swelling of the feet may occur – edema, fluid accumulated in the abdomen – ascites, itching of the skin, nasal bleeding, bruising caused by minor trauma, abdominal pain, frequent infections. In the digestive tract, venous dilatations that can bleed appear, this bleeding often causes the death of people with cirrhosis. Spleen increases in volume, and a large number of blood cells will be destroyed inside this organ. In the years, the kidneys are also affected, sometimes renal insufficiency occurs. In addition, cirrhosis may develop liver cancer.
What is the treatment:
- stop drinking alcohol;
- restriction on salt consumption;
- avoiding the administration of anti-inflammatory drugs,
- administering a drug treatment that sometimes also includes antibiotics;
- evacuation of fluid accumulated in the abdomen;
- reducing protein intake, especially if encephalopathy occurs. Moreover, the low protein diet is necessary because the body is no longer able to adequately eliminate the ammonia resulting from their metabolism. Last but not least, poor protein diet is also recommended if ascites or edema develop.
- immunization against viral hepatitis (A, B), influenza and against pneumococcus;
- liver transplantation is indicated in serious, advanced stages of liver cirrhosis;
- it is essential to periodically check with the gastroenterologist, who will recommend the patient with appropriate treatment to keep the disease under control.