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Our Services / Cirrhosis of the Liver

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About Cirrhosis of the Liver

Your liver is part of your digestive system and filters toxins from your body. If your liver is damaged or diseased, scarring (cirrhosis) can develop, affecting the liver’s function. The experienced gastroenterologists at Carolina Digestive Health Associates, PA, with 13 offices, can help you preserve your remaining liver function if you have cirrhosis of the liver. For help with symptoms of liver problems, contact your local office in Charlotte, Belmont, Concord, Davidson, Matthews, Monroe, Huntersville, University, or Pineville, North Carolina. Call or book online today.

Cirrhosis of the Liver Q & A

What is cirrhosis of the liver?

Cirrhosis of the liver is a disease that results in a loss of liver function. It involves the gradual, progressive destruction of liver cells, leading to scar tissue buildup.

Cirrhosis of the liver can cause symptoms that include:

  • Weakness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Itchiness

You may also develop spider-like blood vessels on your skin.

What causes cirrhosis of the liver?

Cirrhosis of the liver has numerous causes. One of the most common is hepatitis infection. Other causes include:

  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Drug misuse
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Inherited conditions like cystic fibrosis
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

Diseases of the bile ducts in your liver can also lead to cirrhosis. Examples include primary biliary cholangitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and blocked bile ducts.

What complications does cirrhosis of the liver cause?

Cirrhosis of the liver can cause some serious complications. Because your liver isn’t working properly, it can’t remove all of the toxins from your blood, so they build up to a dangerous level. As your liver function deteriorates, you might develop jaundice — a yellowing of your skin and the white part of your eyes.

Other complications can include:

  • Gallstones
  • Medication sensitivity
  • Bleeding in the esophagus and stomach
  • Fluid retention in your abdomen and legs
  • An enlarged liver
  • Hypersplenism (an overactive spleen)
  • Bruising and bleeding easily
  • Bacterial peritonitis
  • Malnutrition
  • Liver cancer

One of the most common complications of cirrhosis of the liver is a serious condition called portal hypertension. It’s caused by a blockage in the blood flow through your liver due to the extensive scarring from cirrhosis. 

This poor blood flow in your liver increases the pressure in your portal vein, a large blood vessel transporting blood from your digestive organs to your liver.

Portal hypertension causes varices — enlarged veins in your esophagus, stomach, or intestines. As the pressure in your veins increases, they may bleed or burst, causing severe, and potentially life-threatening, internal bleeding.

How is cirrhosis of the liver treated?

Treatment options for cirrhosis of the liver include a healthy diet, restricting alcohol, and avoiding drugs that could harm the liver. You may also need to undergo kidney dialysis to remove waste from your bloodstream and take medications to treat any complications you’re experiencing.

Cirrhosis of the liver can progress to a point where these treatments are no longer effective. By this time, your liver can’t do enough to keep you alive. This is end-stage liver failure, and the only treatment is a liver transplant.

However, transplantation isn’t an option for all patients and is also dependent on finding a suitable donor.

If you’re worried about your liver, don’t delay getting an accurate diagnosis from Carolina Digestive Health Associates, PA. Call their office or book an appointment online today.