How Can I Prevent Cirrhosis Of The Liver
Food and drink issues:
- Use alcohol only in moderation. If you do drink alcohol, limit how much you drink and how often. If you drink more than two drinks a day if you are a man or more than one if you are a woman, you are increasing your risk. A drink is a glass of wine or a 12-ounce can of beer or a 1.5 ounce serving of hard liquor. If you have liver disease, you shouldn’t drink alcohol at all.
- Eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. A well-balanced healthy diet consists of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
- Dont eat raw seafood, especially oysters and clams. These foods can contain a bacteria that can cause serious illness.
- Cut back on the amount of salt in your diet. Use other seasonings to flavor your foods.
Healthy body habits:
- Maintain a weight that’s healthy for you. Excess body fat can damage your liver. Ask your healthcare provider for a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Exercise regularly.
- See your healthcare provider regularly for check-ups. Follow medical recommendations to manage obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol and high triglycerides.
- Quit smoking if you smoke.
Healthy liver practices:
Can Cirrhosis Be Reversed
Generally no. If you have been told you have cirrhosis, you have a late-stage liver disease and the damage that is already done is permanent. There are many liver diseases and complications of liver diseases that can lead to cirrhosis. If your liver disease or complication is caught early and successfully managed, it may be possible to slow or stop the progression of disease.
What Are Esophageal Varices
Esophageal varices are dilated blood vessels within the walls of the lower part of the esophagus that are prone to bleeding. They can appear in people with severe liver disease. A diseased liver can cause portal hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the portal vein. The portal vein supplies the liver with blood. Over time, this pressure causes blood vessels to grow, called collateral blood vessels. These vessels act as channels to divert the blood under high pressure. The extra pressure in these vessels causes them to dilate and become tortuous. These vessels can eventually reach the lower esophagus and stomach and are prone to rupture. The rupture can lead to significant blood loss from vomiting or from lost blood passing through the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of esophageal varices may include:
- Painless vomiting of blood
- Black, tarry or bloody stools
- Anemia. A condition that indicates a low red blood cell count.
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Bleeding And Blood Clot Risk
Cirrhosis can increase the risk of bleeding. The liver produces various proteins in the coagulation cascade . When damaged, the liver is impaired in its production of these proteins. This will ultimately increase bleeding as clotting factors are diminished. Clotting function is estimated by lab values, mainly platelet count, prothrombin time , and international normalized ratio .
The American Gastroenterological Association provided recommendations in 2021 in regards to coagulopathy management of cirrhotic patients in certain scenarios.
Are There Stages Of Cirrhosis
If you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, you are already beyond the early stages of liver disease. Having cirrhosis means your liver has scar tissue in it because it has been damaged.
Liver specialists and researchers have developed many different scoring systems to predict outcome and to guide treatment for chronic liver disease. Some specific liver diseases also have their own scoring systems. However, not every liver disease has a scoring system and theres no scoring system if you happen to have more than one liver disease at the same time.
For these reasons, perhaps its easier to talk about cirrhosis according to a classification system you are more likely to hear from your healthcare provider. He or she may refer to you having either compensated cirrhosis or decompensated cirrhosis.
Compensated cirrhosis means you have cirrhosis but you dont yet have noticeable symptoms . Your lab work and imaging findings may not be abnormal. A liver biopsy may be the only way to confirm a diagnosis of cirrhosis. Median survival in patients with compensated cirrhosis is approximately nine to 12 years.
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Liver Diseases Due To Genetic Conditions:
Some genetic conditions can cause some liver problems as follows:
- Hereditary hemochromatosis promotes the storage of excess iron in the organs.
- Wilsonâs disease promotes the storage of copper instead of releasing it from the body.
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin is mostly produced in the liver. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is caused by a genetic condition where the body is unable to make a sufficient amount of it.
Limiting Your Alcohol Consumption
Heavy alcohol consumption is one of the most common causes of cirrhosis of the liver. One of the best ways to avoid this is to keep within recommended limits.
- men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
- spread your drinking over 3 days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week
If you have cirrhosis, you should stop drinking alcohol immediately because it speeds up the rate at which the condition progresses, regardless of the cause.
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Spots On Your Legs Or Arms
Experts point out that certain superficial skin disorders are common in cases of liver disease. “Dysfunction in the body’s second largest organ, the liver, often yields changes in the body’s largest organ, the skin,” states a 2009 report published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine . “Cutaneous changes may be the first clue that a patient has liver disease. Recognizing these signs is crucial to diagnosing liver conditions early.”
One such skin symptom is the presence of Bier spots, irregularly shaped or “mottled” white spots that can develop on the arms, legs, or hands. “Since Bier spots are a sign of liver disease, they must be distinguished from true pigmentation disorders,” says the CCJM report, which adds, “A key distinguishing feature is that Bier spots disappear when pressure is applied.”
Though most cases of Bier spots are determined to be benign and of no clinical significance, it’s still worth consulting your doctor if you notice themespecially if other common liver symptoms are present.
What Are Treatment Options For Cirrhosis
Preventing further damage to the liver
Consume a balanced diet and one multivitamin daily. Patients with PBC with impaired absorption of fat-soluble vitamins may need additional vitamins D and K.
Avoid drugs that cause liver damage. All patients with cirrhosis should avoid alcohol. Most patients with alcohol-induced cirrhosis experience an improvement in liver function with abstinence from alcohol. Even patients with chronic hepatitis B and C can substantially reduce liver damage and slow the progression towards cirrhosis with abstinence from alcohol.
Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . Patients with cirrhosis can experience worsening of liver and kidney function with NSAIDs.
Eradicate hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus by using anti-viral medications. Not all patients with cirrhosis due to chronic viral hepatitis are candidates for drug treatment. Some patients may experience serious deterioration in liver function and/or intolerable side effects during treatment. Thus, decisions to treat viral hepatitis have to be individualized, after consulting with doctors experienced in treating liver diseases .
Suppress the immune system with drugs such as prednisone and azathioprine to decrease inflammation of the liver in autoimmune hepatitis.
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What Are Some Common Liver Disease Symptoms
When diagnosing liver disease, the doctor looks at the patient’s symptoms and conducts a physical examination. In addition, the doctor may request a liver biopsy, liver function tests, an ultrasound, a computed tomography scan, and/or a magnetic resonance imaging scan.
Some common liver disease symptoms include the following, each of which are described briefly below:
- Jaundice. A yellowing of the skin and eyes.
- Ascites. A fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity.
- Liver encephalopathy
How Do Doctors Treat Cirrhosis
Doctors do not have specific treatments that can cure cirrhosis. However, they can treat many of the diseases that cause cirrhosis. Some of the diseases that cause cirrhosis can be cured. Treating the underlying causes of cirrhosis may keep your cirrhosis from getting worse and help prevent liver failure. Successful treatment may slowly improve some of your liver scarring.
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Treatments For Autoimmune Hepatitis And Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
In both of these diseases, your bodyâs natural defense system attacks and damages your liver. Primary biliary cirrhosis destroys the bile duct — the tube that carries the digestive fluid from the liver to the gallbladder and intestine.
Doctors treat autoimmune hepatitis with steroid drugs and other medicines that stop the immune system from attacking the liver. Side effects may include weight gain, diabetes, weak bones, and high blood pressure.
The main treatment for primary biliary cirrhosis is to slow liver damage with the drug ursodiol . Ursodiol can cause side effects like diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, and back pain. Know more about the treatment options for primary biliary cirrhosis.
Recommendations To Keep The Liver Healthy
- Maintain a healthy diet: Eating healthy food can reduce the burden on the liver. Simple adjustments to diet and lifestyle can help in maintaining a healthy liver. A balanced combination of carbohydrates, fat, and protein is recommended.
- Eat food in moderation: Overeating can increase the load on the liver which is already working hard to digest the food while getting rid of toxins. It can also influence the liver capacity to function properly. Maintain good control and what you eat and keep a check on the quantity. Consuming too many calories, especially in the form of fat and alcohol results in excess storage of fat in the liver.
- Eat raw fruits and vegetables
- Increase fiber content in the diet which can further help in the absorption of fat and cleansing the bowel
- Eat a diet with good fats in moderation. This helps the body and liver to function effectively.
- Maintain healthy hygiene. Clean your hands regularly to avoid hepatitis.
- Avoid sharing needles with others. It can cause hepatitis.
- Limit alcohol intake to prevent cirrhosis or other liver problems
- Drink plenty of fluids to facilitate the excretion of toxins. This can prevent liver injury by toxins and also reduce the load on the liver.
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Portal Hypertension And Variceal Bleeding
Medicines including beta blockers such as propranolol can reduce the risk of bleeding and reduce the severity of any bleed, should it occur. If there is a serious bleed, initial treatment is to replace the fluid and then to identify and correct the cause of bleeding. There are several techniques aimed at stemming the bleeding which involve endoscopy.
One of these is called banding, where a single vein is sucked into a ring at the end of the endoscope. A small band is then placed around the base of the varix which will control the bleeding.
Injection sclerotherapy is also used and involves injecting a substance into the veins of the gullet to induce clotting and scar tissue that will help stop the veins from bleeding.
If bleeding can not be stopped by endoscopy, a Sengstaken tube is passed down the throat into the stomach. This device has two balloons which once inflated, put pressure on the varices and help control the bleeding. People are heavily sedated for this procedure.
If bleeding still cannot be controlled a procedure to lower pressure in the portal vein called a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunt may be needed. In this procedure a metal tube is passed across your liver to join two large veins . This creates a bypass so the blood flows straight into the hepatic vein relieving the pressure which causes the varices.
How To Keep Your Liver Healthy
The liver breaks down all the food that passes through the body. It acts like a giant filter removing toxins from the body and protecting healthy human cells from the damage. It performs this task through the following mechanism:
- The toxins, especially the fatty one, are metabolized with liver enzymes and oxygen
- The toxins are combined with amino acids and are further eliminated through urine
In extreme cases of liver injury or liver damage, the system gets loaded with toxins resulting in health issues. The liver has the responsibility to break down or convert drugs, alcohol to components suitable for the food. Overloading the liver with large quantities of alcohol, fried foods, drugs, etc., impacts the cleaning process.
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Functions Of The Liver
The liver plays a key role in digestion and detoxification. It produces chemicals that are important for the digestion of various foods ingested through the mouth. It also breaks down unwanted compounds and detoxes the body. The liver also acts as a storage unit by storing fats that can be utilized during the phases of starvation.
Some of the key functions of the liver are as follows:
- Liver produces bile to initiate the process of digestion. Bile is an important digestive juice that is necessary for digestion.Liver converts glucose into glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscle cells
- Hepatocytes in the liver are responsible for protein synthesis which is central for many body functions including the maintenance of circulatory system
- Liver produces cholesterol and triglycerides which are essential as energy reserves.
- Liver detoxifies the body by converting ammonia into urea which is excreted through the urine
- It breaks down drugs to simple elements that can be tolerated by the body while treating diseases
- Alcohol in its original form is toxic to the human body. Liver breaks it down to a form that can be tolerated by the body
- Liver also breaks down insulin and other hormones to facilitate certain functions like blood glucose management
- Certain vitamins and minerals like B12, folic acid, iron, vitamin A, D, and K are stored in the liver. They are important for certain functions like the production of red blood cells, calcium absorption, vision and clotting of blood.
What Is The Prognosis And Life Expectancy For Cirrhosis Of The Liver
The prognosis and life expectancy for cirrhosis of the liver varies and depends on the cause, the severity, any complications, and any underlying diseases.
- In compensated cirrhosis, patients have not developed any major complications and the average survival rate is more than 12 years.
- The prognosis is worse for patients who have decompensated cirrhosis and have developed complications such as ascites, variceal hemorrhage, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatorenal syndrome, or hepatopulmonary syndrome.
- Patients with decompensated cirrhosis often require liver transplantation and in those who are unable to receive an organ transplant, life expectancy may be less than 6 months.
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How Will I Get Further Prescriptions
Your GP will prescribe your repeat prescriptions. You will be able to take your prescription to your local pharmacist to get more supplies, or the local pharmacy may receive your prescription directly from your GP surgery.
For more detailed information on medication, information is provided by the manufacturer in the medicine package. This leaflet has been designed to inform you what each medication is used for and why it is important.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Ascites And Peripheral Oedema
Ascites and swelling in the ankles or legs can be a common complication of cirrhosis. Ascites can be uncomfortable and may cause difficulty breathing.
Spironolactone and Furosemide are also known as diuretics. These medicines help the body get rid of excess fluid.
Antibiotics such as co-trimoxazole fluid building up in the tummy can become infected antibiotics can be used to help treat the infection or may be used in lower doses to prevent infection.
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Why Does Cirrhosis Cause Problems
The liver is an important organ in the body. It performs many critical functions, two of which are producing substances required by the body, for example, clotting proteins that are necessary in order for blood to clot, and removing toxic substances that can be harmful to the body, for example, such as drugs. The liver also has an important role in regulating the supply of glucose and lipids that the body uses as fuel. In order to perform these critical functions, the liver cells must be working normally, and they must have close proximity to the blood because the substances that are added or removed by the liver are transported to and from the liver by the blood.
What Is Liver Encephalopathy
Liver encephalopathy is the deterioration of brain function and damage to the nervous system due to toxic substances building up in the blood, which are normally removed by the liver. Liver encephalopathy is also called portal-systemic encephalopathy, hepatic encephalopathy, or hepatic coma. Symptoms may include:
- Impaired consciousness
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How To Stay Healthy With Cirrhosis
To keep your liver as healthy as possible, make a few changes to your lifestyle:
- Eat a liver-friendly diet. Cirrhosis can rob your body of nutrients and weaken your muscles. To combat these effects, eat lots of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean protein from poultry or fish. Avoid oysters and other raw shellfish, because they contain bacteria that could cause an infection. Also, limit salt, which increases fluid buildup in your body.
- Get vaccinated. Cirrhosis and its treatments weaken your immune system and make it harder to fight off infections. Protect yourself by getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, the flu, and pneumonia.
- Be careful when you take medicine. Cirrhosis damage makes it harder for your liver to process and remove medicines. Ask your doctor before you take any over-the-counter drug, including herbal remedies. Be very cautious about medicines that can cause liver damage, like acetaminophen .